Nagpur:The International Cricket Council on Saturday handed India captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni a two-match ODI ban after India was found to be three overs short of its target at the end of the Nagpur one-dayer against Sri Lanka on Friday.
ICC match referee Jeff Crowe of New Zealand imposed the ban after Dhoni's side was ruled to be short of its target when time allowances were taken into consideration in the second ODI in Nagpur on Friday which India lost by three wickets.
Apart from Dhoni's ban, Crowe also fined Indian players 40 per cent of their match fees.
"In accordance with Article 2.5.2 of the new ICC Code of Conduct, which deals with serious over-rate offences, the captain receives two suspension points while the players were fined 10 per cent of their match fees for the first two overs short and 20 per cent for every additional over their side fails to bowl in the allotted time," the ICC said in a statement.
"Two suspension points in the enhanced code means a ban of one Test or two ODIs, depending whichever comes first for the player. As such, Dhoni has been banned for the next two ODIs to be played in Cuttack and Kolkata on 21 and 24 December, respectively, while his players received 40 per cent fines," it said.
"Mr Crowe reached his conclusion after a hearing attended by the India captain, India coach Gary Kirsten, on-field umpires Marais Erasmus and Shavir Tarapore, and third umpire Sanjay Hazare," the statement said.
Commenting on his decision, Crowe said, "The India captain like his Sri Lanka counterpart was reminded and warned before and during the ODI series to be mindful of the slow over-rates and the penalties under the revised code.
"The India side was at par until the 42nd over but bowled only eight overs in the last hour which is unacceptable. I accept the fact that the ultimate desire of the team was to win the match but at the same time it had deadlines to meet and also fulfill the responsibilities it owed to the stakeholders."
To add to Dhoni's woes, if he is found guilty of a second serious over-rate offence in an ODI over the next 12 months, he will receive a sanction of between two and eight suspension points as per the provisions of the new, enhanced ICC Code of Conduct.
The BCCI has said that it will not appeal against the ban as it was imposed according to the ICC rules.
In the absence of Dhoni, dashing opener Virender Sehwag has been named the captain for the next two one-dayers in Cuttack on December 21 and Kolkata on December 24. Tamil Nadu wicket-keeper batsman Dinesh Karthik, who featured in India's Twenty20 squad against the Lankans, has been inducted in the team as a replacement for the charismatic Dhoni.
The five-match series is currently tied 1-1 after India won the first match in Rajkot by three runs, while the Sri Lankans snatched a thrilling three wicket victory in the second game here on Friday.
Dhoni's unavailability will be a big setback for the Indians as he has been in great touch in the recent series against the islanders, scoring 72 and 107 in two matches played so far.
With flamboyant middle-order batsman Yuvraj Singh being a doubtful starter as he is still recovering from a finger injury and flu, the Indian batting will be weaker in the next two games.
Meanwhile, in a different incident match referee Crowe did not find left-handed batsman Gautam Gambhir guilty of breaching the Level 1 of the ICC Code of Conduct during the Nagpur ODI.
In a hearing convened after the match on last night, Gambhir pleaded not guilty to contravening Article 2.1.3 of the ICC Code of Conduct for Players and Team Officials which relates to "showing dissent at an umpire's decision by action or verbal abuse".
The incident took place in the fifth over of India's innings when Gambhir was run-out by Angelo Mathews.
"It was an unusual incident and while the umpires were justified in laying the charges, after studying all the evidences I found that Mr Gambhir was actually annoyed and irritated by the actions of the bowler than at the decision of the third umpire," Crowe said.
"At the same time, the umpires and I were convinced that the actions of the bowler were unintentional," he added.
If found guilt of violating Level 1 of the ICC Code of Conduct, Gambhir could have faced an official reprimand or a fine of up to 50 per cent of his match fees.
(With PTI inputs)