Mumbai Indian’s Harbhajan Singh allegedly slapped Kings XI Punjab’s Sreesanth during post-match handshakes
- This was matchday 10 for IPL in Mohali, KXIP’s home ground
- Kings XI Punjab defeated Mumbai Indians by 66 runs
- The score read: KXIP-182/10 (20) vs 116/9 (20) MI
- Sreesanth took two wickets while the turbanator bagged one, both got out on ducks
The media framed ‘Slap gate’ incident, also labeled as IPL’s first on-field controversy, occurred on 25 April 2008, in Mohali, when Mumbai Indian’s stand-in captain and off-spinner Harbhajan Singh, allegedly slapped Kings XI Punjab’s pacer Sreesanth, on-field just after the match, leaving him in tears.
It got worse when footage showing a weeping Sreesanth getting consoled by fellow teammate Yuvraj Singh started running on the media channels.
The BCCI was quick to take action and asked Farokh Engineer, the match referee, to investigate the case. Meanwhile, Harbhajan Singh was immediately suspended for a temporary basis.
Interestingly, Harbhajan was banned from India-Australia’s three test matches after his ‘monkey’ comment on the Kangaroo’s batsman Andrew Symonds. However, the ban was lifted and he was only fined for his comments, thanks to the BCCI.
Harbhajan’s involvement in another controversy was like gasoline to the fire. After the investigations, he was banned from the rest of IPL 2008.
Kings XI Punjab’s Yuvraj Singh cited the incident as “ugly’ though later claimed that the media had stoked the controversy while both the involved players had reconciled in the dressing room, just after the incident.
Later, Sreesanth too came out to tell that Harbhajan was like an “elder brother” to him and that they had no bitterness between them. He stated that it was a “handshake at the wrong place”.
Afterward, Harbhajan also apologized for his actions and said that Sreesanth was like a “friend and younger brother” to him.
It is believed that Kings XI Punjab’s management decided to file a complaint against Harbhajan even though Sreesanth wasn’t wishing to do so. The complaint said that the action made by the other team’s player was an “unprovoked attack”.
In 2010, Sreesanth claimed that is was “planned” and it was rather Harbhajan’s “elbow” that had hit him. His statement gathered only a little attention.
Till today the reason hasn’t been known for why Harbhajan slapped Sreesanth. Both of them were notorious for their on-field aggression and sometimes usage of inappropriate language.
It is believed that Sreesanth might have said something offensive after their win that acted as a provocation for the off-spinner.