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Harbhajan faces lengthy match ban

Indian cricket star Harbhajan Singh is facing a lengthy ban after he was accused of assaulting national team-mate Sree Santh during an IPL game.

The disciplinary hearing chaired by match referee Farokh Engineer was taking place in Delhi on Monday.

Millions of television viewers in India saw Santh, who was playing for Punjab, crying after allegedly being slapped by Harbhajan, captain of Mumbai.

Harbhajan was suspended from the Indian Premier League pending the hearing.

The Board of Control for Cricket in India has confirmed it will take separate action against Harbhajan as he is a centrally contracted player.

He will be charged with a level four offence under the International Cricket Council's code of conduct which deals with player assault.

If found guilty he could be banned for between five Tests or 10 one-day internationals up to a life ban.

Harbhajan recently faced controversy over allegations he called Australia's Andrew Symonds a monkey during a Test tour.

Those charges, referring to an incident during India's cricket tour of Australia, caused outrage in India with many fans taking to the streets in protest.

Harbhajan was eventually cleared of the charge of racial abuse, but found guilty of using abusive language.

Following the incident, Australia's Matthew Hayden described him as an obnoxious little weed.

Harbhajan Singh - or Bhaji as he is known here - returned to India a hero, but this latest controversy appears to have made him a villain.

Following a match between his Mumbai side and the Punjab team he is alleged to have lost his temper, pushed Santh and then hit him in the face.

Harbhajan has denied this, but the game's governing body says it has video evidence.

The story has dominated the news in India for the past few days, with television channels continually showing pictures of Santh with tears streaming down his face.

Most cricket fans want strong action to be taken against Harbhajan.

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