'What I did was wrong:' Harbhajan Singh brings up Sreesanth saga to make peace appeal to Kohli and Gambhir
Harbhajan Singh recalled his infamous post-match altercation with S Sreesanth from the inaugural edition of the Indian Premier League (IPL) to make a peace appeal to giants Virat Kohli and Gautam Gambhir following Monday (May 1) night's controversial altercation.
Singh spoke from his personal experience of completely crossing the line and going on to slap Sreesanth in brash anger following his ex IPL team Mumbai Indians' (MI) game against the Punjab Kings (PBKS). The turbanator said he still "regrets" his behaviour in the heat of the moment.
The now-retired India and IPL cricketer urged Kohli and Gambhir to potentially learn from his mistakes and leave out their indifferences to make peace with each other. The appeal got made following the contentious verbal spat that Royal Challengers Bangalore (RCB) batter indulged in with the Lucknow Super Giants (LSG) mentor following his team's win in Lucknow.
The incident saw Gambhir taking offence to Kohli's sledging act and jeering against multiple LSG players during the match and engaging in an extremely heated argument, which could easily have led to the Harbhajan-Sreesanth scenes before the two players were thankfully intervened by their teammates and support staff personnel.
Harbhajan recounts Sreesanth controversy to opine on Kohli-Gambhir clash
Speaking on his YouTube channel, Harbhajan said he feels "ashamed" over the Sreesanth episode, losing his temper at the opposition player to such an extent that he went on to slap him. The cricketer even faced an 11-match suspension for his act by the BCCI and still gets flake for his on-field behaviour.
The ex India off-spinner said the underlining lesson from the Sreesanth episode for him, and for other players to learn, is to control one's anger and maintain the behaviour expected out of an international athlete. Harbhajan later apologised to Sreesanth and both the cricketers were part of the 2011 World Cup-winning team alongside Gambhir and Virat Kohli.
"This won't stop here," Harbhajan said of the Kohli-Gambhir clash. "People will be talking about it, trying to dissect who did what. All this though, is talk on the outside. As a someone who has lived through something like this myself. It was something similar that happened between me and Sreesanth back in 2008."
"Today, 15 years later, I still feel ashamed thinking about it because all these gestures are not. At the time I felt what has happened as happened, I was right. But no, what I did was wrong," he added.
Kohli was seen first engaging in verbal altercations with LSG players Naveen-Ul-Haq and Amit Mishra in the closing stages of home team's ultimately unsuccessful run-chase, before reaching near the opposition dugout and going through a heated argument with Gambhir.
"Virat Kohli, you are a legend. There is no need for you to get involved in something like this," Harbhajan said. "But he is such a passionate player that he felt he is involved in the game and it happened. People will try to find out if it the mistake is Kohli's, Gambhir's or Naveen's but this picture that has been made is not good for cricket. Your both such big players, they both are my younger brothers and it is with this liberty that I say that, there is no use of this."
The off-spinner turned commentator said he wishes to see the sight of Gambhir and Kohli leaving their anger behind and hugging each other to send the right message across to the fans, who were left worried that the two cricketers might be crossing the line completely and fighting physically.
"I am bringing up my episode time and again because even today when I look back, I think I shouldn't have done that. I regret that a lot. I am sure you both will also think why is that we were fighting. It was a small matter, we could have solved it right there. We should make good memories."
"Please forget all this, just finish this matter. Meet each other, give each other a nice hug, cricket is made by you all, kids are watching you and as ambassadors of the game it is our responsibility to represent it in the right manner. So I hope both my brothers will make up and send out a good message," Harbhajan said.