India v Australia, 3rd Test, Delhi, 2nd day October 30, 2008

Gambhir and Watson charged

Cricinfo staff

Gautam Gambhir could be fined 50 to 100% of his match fee or get a ban for his altercation with Shane Watson © AFP

Gautam Gambhir and Shane Watson have been charged with "spirit of the game" offences after the two were involved in an altercation on day one of the third Test in Delhi. Chris Broad, the match referee, charged Gambhir with Level 2 offence for not conducting play "within the spirit of the game as well as within the laws of cricket". Watson will answer a Level 1 charge under the same section.

Gambhir claimed the clash, which occurred in the 51st over of India's first innings, when he pushed his elbow into Watson's chest was accidental, but he could face a ban of one Test if found guilty at the hearing after play on Thursday.

Gambhir, who has hit consecutive centuries against Australia, had a series of verbal clashes with Watson during the middle session on day one and then ran into him when trying for a second run. "It wasn't deliberate, it just happened," Gambhir said at the end of the first day. "I didn't need to get into this argument with Shane Watson because he had no option of getting me out. There wasn't a need for me to stick my elbow out, it just happened."

Level 2 penalties range from a fine of between 50 and 100% of a match fee and/or a ban of one Test. If Watson, who is playing his sixth Test, is found guilty he could receive an official reprimand and/or a 50% fine.

The umpires Billy Bowden and Aleem Dar laid the charges against the players along with the TV official Suresh Shastri.

After tea Gambhir also argued with part-time spinner Simon Katich - the bowler appeared to have halted Gambhir from taking a run - and the pair was separated by Bowden. No action will be taken over those exchanges.

Gambhir was fined 65% of his match fee for a similar incident in 2007 when he barged in to Pakistan bowler Shahid Afridi while batting in a one-day match in Kanpur. He was found guilty of a Level 2 charge of inappropriate and deliberate physical contact between players and was also ruled to have breached a Level 1 condition of not conducting play with the spirit of the game.

Zaheer Khan was docked 80% of his match fee in the second Test for his celebration when Matthew Hayden was dismissed in the second innings in Mohali. The tense series, which India leads 1-0, follows a fractious contest in Australia in 2007-08.