x Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 22 January 2018

IPL’s best moments: April 25, 2008 – Harbhajan Singh slaps Sreesanth

As the UAE prepares to host the opening 20 matches of this season’s Indian Premier League, The National is looking back at 16 memorable moments from the first six stagings of the competition.

Harbhajan Singh, here reacting after an unsuccessful appeal for the wicket of unseen Sri Lankan cricketer Malinda Warnapura during the fourth day of the third and final Test match between India and Sri Lanka  in Colombo on August 11, 2008. Harbhajan’s infamous moment in the IPL came on April 25, 2008, when he slapped Sreesanth. Lakruwan Wanniarachchi / AFP
Harbhajan Singh, here reacting after an unsuccessful appeal for the wicket of unseen Sri Lankan cricketer Malinda Warnapura during the fourth day of the third and final Test match between India and Sri Lanka in Colombo on August 11, 2008. Harbhajan’s infamous moment in the IPL came on April 25, 2008, when he slapped Sreesanth. Lakruwan Wanniarachchi / AFP

Even before he was found guilty of spot-fixing in last season’s Indian Premier League (IPL) and banned from the game, S Sreesanth was not unknown to off-field headlines. It had become increasingly clear that as gifted as he was with ball in hand, he was often an equally ludicrous character on the field, a kind of lightning rod for all manner of controversy and spats. In a short career, he had quickly become almost everyone’s player they loved to hate.

“Slapgate”, as it predictably came to be known, happened after the game. It could have been sparked by any number of provocations and counter-provocations, given the two players involved, but it ended with Harbhajan Singh allegedly slapping Sreesanth during the post-match ceremony.

TV cameras, so intrusive usually, missed the actual slap, but caught Sreesanth crying uncontrollably immediately after it. A succession of teammates tried to console him, including Kumar Sangakkara, to no avail.

After disciplinary hearings, Harbhajan was banned for the rest of the tournament and Sreesanth let off with a warning. The incident captured some of the chaotic but compelling tension of that first season and the headlines, of two India teammates at odds with each other, did no harm to the ratings.

In 2013, just before he was charged with spot-fixing, Sreesanth claimed in a series of tweets that the incident was planned, that Harbhajan had not slapped but elbowed him and that the truth of it all was in a video the IPL had not released.

osamiuddin@thenational.ae

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