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Bhajji creates controversy again
Chandigarh, Sept 3 (IANS):
Published on 3 Sep. 2009 11:15 PM IST
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Off-spinner Harbhajan Singh has probably created more hullabaloo on and off the field than any other celebrity cricketer in India, and this time controversy has come riding on the back of his new Rs.1 crore Hummer SUV. Bhajji - as he is popularly known - has been found on the wrong side of the law for driving his Hummer on Chandigarh’s roads without a number plate. His vehicle, imported from Britain last month, was Tuesday slapped with a penalty of Rs.3,000 for violation of the Motor Vehicles Act. He was forced to put up a registration plate, with a temporary Delhi number, on the SUV. In April this year, he and Indian captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni deliberately gave a miss to the Padma national awards ceremony at Rashtrapati Bhavan after they were named this year for the prestigious Padma Shri honour. Both were reportedly busy with commercial shoots and not playing cricket for the country when the awards function took place in April. Sports Minister Manohar Singh Gill was livid and even said the duo needed to learn from legendary cricketer Sachin Tendulkar on how to treat such national honours. From letting his hair down on the ramp and being featured in an advertisement for liquor - both prohibited by his religion - to having on and off field spats with Australians Andrew Symonds and Mathew Hayden; slapping fellow cricketer S. Sreesanth in full public view and doing a Ravana dance act on a TV dance show last year that got Hindu and Sikh organisations gunning for his blood - Bhajji has done it all. Even the Sikh clergy was aghast with Bhajji because he posed as a Hindu mythological character and applied Hindu symbols on his forehead. In Hindu mythology, Sita, the wife of Lord Rama, was abducted by demon king Ravana to force her to marry him. Radical Hindu organisations objected to the dance number saying it mocked their gods. Bhajji, 29, comes from a humble Sikh family in Punjab’s Jalandhar city but is known for his aggressive nature on field, putting him in the class of most badly behaved cricketers. His mother and one of his sisters live in a small house in Jalandhar’s congested Daulatpuri locality. This sister - he has four other married ones - works in a private bank in Jalandhar and uses a two-wheeler to commute between work and home. Whenever in Jalandhar, Bhajji lives with them. Bhajji had landed himself in trouble in April last year after his ‘Slapgate’ controversy in which he slapped fast bowler and fellow Indian cricketer S. Sreesanth after losing an Indian Premier League (IPL) match at Mohali. The incident almost put a stop on his playing career. The slap cost Bhajji a whopping Rs.34 million as he was dumped from IPL and faced a limited ban from playing. Bhajji’s infamous “monkey” run-in with equally temperamental Australian all-rounder Andrew Symonds almost saw India’s tour to Australia being abandoned in 2007. The bowler also had an on and off-field spat with Australian opener Mathew Hayden who, of course, bit more than he could chew when he called the Bhajji “an obnoxious weed”. The Punjab Cricket Association (PCA) at Mohali, near here, had set up a probe against Bhajji in 2005 after he publicly went against then Indian cricket coach Greg Chappell, saying the coach was intimidating players in the team. The bowler was trying to defend then Indian skipper Saurav Ganguly but ended up being reprimanded by the PCA. Bhajji was also partner in a hair-cutting salon here a few years ago. A disappointed Indian Oil captain Wasim Jaffer held the scheduling of the tournament during the monsoons responsible for his side’s ouster from the event. “It’s really disappointing to got out of the tournament without playing a match but we don’t have control over nature. The tournament is an encouraging step from the BCCI’s part but they could have scheduled it a couple of weeks later,” the right-handed opener said. “It’s not just here, rain is playing spoilsport at Mohali and Bangalore as well.” Meanwhile, match referee Manu Nayyar said there was no provision under rules to re-schedule the match. “The decision to abandon the match was in keeping with the rules. There is no question of rescheduling it as the rule book doesn’t allow us to do so,” he said. Steady rain and wet outfield yesterday, saw the match between Indian Oil and AIPSSPB abandoned without a ball being bowled and both the sides were awarded two points apiece. Persistent rain had cast a shadow over the entire Group C leg of the tournament. The teams, which arrived here on Monday, did not get enough chance to do practice as the continuous downpour kept them largely confined to their hotel rooms.

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