Faceoff: A combination photo of Mohali pacer S Sreesanth and Mumbai spinner Harbhajan Singh. BCCI decided to ban Harbhajan for five ODIs.
Rajasthan Royals captain Rahul Dravid has brushed aside talks that temperamental pacer S Sreesanth was rested for the match against Mumbai Indians to avoid a possible confrontation with Harbhajan Singh, saying it was tactical move aimed at managing the workload of players.
Sreesanth and Harbhajan were slated to meet for the first time last night in an Indian Premier League after the former reopened the 'slapgate' wounds with his explosive tweets.
However, Sreesanth, who returned with figures of 2-20 off his four overs against Kings XI in Royals' previous game against Kings XI Punjab, was surprisingly left out of the match against Mumbai and in his place spinner Ankeet Chavan was drafted in.
"No there was nothing like 'Bhajji factor' (behind Sreesanth's omission)," Dravid told at the post-match press conference last night when asked whether the change was done purposefully to avoid a possible confrontation between the two volatile players.
"Sreesanth has played four matches and has performed well. We still have a long way to go and we want to keep him going throughout this long tournament. He can't play all the matches," the Rajasthan skipper clarified.
Sreesanth reopened the 2008 Slapgate chapter a few days ago by making an explosive claim that the entire incident was planned and that his former team-mate Harbhajan Singh was a "backstabbing person".
Talking about Rajasthan's emphatic 87-run win over formidable Mumbai Indians, Dravid said their strategies worked to perfection on Wednesday night.
"The first six overs in batting and bowling were decisive. (Shane) Watson and (Ajinkya) Rahane had put on 62 on board and while defending, we reduced Mumbai to 26 for 2 by picking up the crucial wickets of Sachin (Tendulkar) and (Ricky) Ponting. This helped us tighten the noose," he said.