Harbjahan Singh has lashed out at Hardik Pandya and KL Rahul for their sexist and controversial statements on Koffee with Karan. The two cricketers were suspended and will most likely return home from Australia where India will play three ODIs starting January 12 in Sydney.
Pandya had apologised for his comments and even replied to the BCCI’s show-cause notice but his response did not cut much ice with the Committee of Administrators.
Harbhajan also said he would not want to stay on the same team bus with Hardik or Rahul and added the two players had brought the Indian team into disrepute with their comments.
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“Look, the punishment could be a two-match or three-match ban. That will not change anything. Their reputation was at stake, they have lost the trust of their teammates. If he comes and stands next to you at a party, would you like to stand next to him? I will not travel with these two guys in the same bus because if my daughter, if my wife is travelling in the team bus.. how would they feel? You are looking at women in only one angle? That’s not right,” Harbhajan told India Today.
“It’s actually hurting us. He is bringing everyone’s reputation on the stake, including Sachin Tendulkar’s and all that of these great players who have played for the country for more than 20 years.
“He’s talking about using other teammates’ room. ‘C’mon man what are you talking about? You have been in the team for only one year. What do you know about the team?’
“We never created this kind of culture…party till 5 and come to play the next day. ‘You’re here to play cricket not to do this kind of stuff. When you have free time, you can enjoy, do what you want to do.’
Harbhajan also raised pertinent questions about the role of BCCI’s Anti-Corruption Unit [ACU] when it comes to monitoring players’ activities during tours.
“Obviously, the ACU needs to see, which player is going where. The ACU should report to the BCCI. Where was the ACU when KL [Rahul] was out till 5 in the morning,” Harbhajan added.
“The rules now are so strict. No one can come to your rooms without prior permission? Where was the ACU?”
“The Indian team has a reputation.. they go out there to play for India. You are bringing bad name to cricket and all the seniors who have played the game. Virat Kohli made it very clear the team does not want these two players to stay with the team… Whether they stay in Australia or not, is a different matter,” he said.
On Friday, BCCI and CoA, after seeking legal opinions, decided to suspend Hardik and Rahul pending further inquiry. While BCCI now wants the duo to return home, the team management wants the players to stay in Australia to save them from severe backlash in India.
Harbhajan said the suspension will mean nothing if the two players are allowed to stay back with the team.
“Well, I don’t know. What do you mean by suspension? If they are still part of the team… Suspension means you won’t be able to take part in anything. Then why be there in Australia?,” Harbhajan told India Today.
“They should rather be sent back home. Standards need to be set and this is something which was unacceptable. They have said a lot of things that have not been up to the mark. It didn’t go well with me and with a lot of other cricketers.
“I was speaking to a couple of my seniors about the same thing. There wasn’t any need to say things like that.
“Hardik has only played for a year or so. In my view he has no right to talk about any other player [when asked about what he felt when they revealed dressing room secrets]. I have been part of the team for many years.
“For 25 odd years, I have been playing. We make sure that whatever we do stays in the dressing room. You shouldn’t be talking ill about other teammates. What’s the guarantee that others are doing it if you’re doing it,” Harabhajan said.
Hardik Pandya and KL Rahul had boasted of their night outs on Koffee with Karan which aired on January 6. Soon after the episode, social media was abuzz with fans questioning the statements made by the two cricketers.