When Harbhajan Singh hit S Sreesanth beneath his eyes after Friday's Indian Premier League match, the feisty off-spinner could hardly imagine that he had just delivered what was arguably the costliest slap in the history of Indian cricket.
Notorious for his on-field skirmishes, Harbhajan's violent outburst resulted him being banned for the rest of the IPL, besides inviting a fine.
Consequentially, Harbhajan, who had been bought in the landmark IPL auction by Mukesh Ambani's Mumbai franchise for a whopping Rs 3.4 crore, will now pocket merely Rs 48 lakh and he forfeits all his match fees from the third game onwards.
IPL Commissioner Lalit Modi today spelled out the arithmetic and said, "A player's fee is divided over 14 matches and Harbhajan will be paid for only the first two matches."
Effectively, the slap that invited the ban leaves a huge hole in Harbhajan's pocket, costing him just about Rs three crore.
In contrast, Sreesanth will be laughing all the way to the bank, retaining the entire Rs 2.5 crore that Preity Zinta's Mohali franchise shelled out in the auction.
Modi revealed that Harbhajan, having led the Mumbai Indians to their third successive defeat, was hardly in the best of moods and while shaking hands with opponents, he slapped Sreesanth after the match in Mohali.
Kings XI Punjab CEO Neil Maxwell subsequently lodged a formal complaint and Match Referee Farokh Engineer was named adjudicator for today's hearing, which found the offie guilty of breaching Level 4.2 of ICC Code of Conduct.