MS Dhoni, India's captain, has been banned for two ODIs for India's failure to maintain the over-rate during the second match against Sri Lanka in Nagpur. The ban is effective immediately, which means Dhoni will be unavailable for the games in Cuttack and Kolkata, returning only for the final ODI in Delhi. Virender Sehwag will captain the side in his absence.
The severity of the penalty - a ban instead of a fine - is because India were three overs short, which comes under the "serious over-rate offence" category. Falling short by up to two overs in an ODI, and five in a Test day, is considered a "minor offence", and merits a ban only if the offence is repeated twice in 12 months. On Friday night, though, India finished their 50 overs about 45 minutes after the scheduled finish and left match referee Jeff Crowe with no choice but to impose a ban.
If India repeat a serious over-rate offence in any form of the game within the next 12 months, Dhoni could earn himself a ban of two to eight ODIs or one to four Tests.
"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," Crowe said. "The Indian 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 Indian side 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."
The rest of the Indian players were fined 40% of their match fee for the offence - 10% each for the first two overs of minor offence and 20% each for every subsequent over. The BCCI has also stated that it will not appeal against the ban.
"We have received information that the match referee has put a two-ODI ban on Dhoni for slow over-rate," Ratnakar Shetty, BCCI's chief administrative officer, said. "We are waiting for a formal communication on this. We will look into details and then make further comments."
Kumar Sangakkara, Sri Lanka's captain, came close to getting banned when his side were found to be two overs short during the second Twenty20 international in Mohali. Sangakkara was fined 40% of his match fee while the rest of the team was docked 20% each, but Crowe said Sangakkara escaped a much bigger penalty.
"Kumar was kept informed throughout the match by the on-field umpires of where his team was with its over-rate," Crowe said. "Under the revised code of conduct, Sri Lanka was very close to being three overs behind and charged for a Serious Over Rate Offence, which would have resulted in its captain being suspended in the next two ODIs." Within the next 12 months, Sri Lanka can afford to repeat this minor offence once. Third strike, and Sangakkara will be out for a game.
Meanwhile, Indian opener Gautam Gambhir has been found not guilty of showing dissent towards the umpires while batting in Nagpur. He set off for a quick single to mid-on but collided with the bowler before Angelo Mathews' direct hit caught him short of his crease. He appeared to gesticulate in frustration towards the umpire but Crowe clarified that it wasn't directed at him when the decision was referred to the third umpire.
"It was an unusual incident and while the umpires were justified in laying the charges, after studying all the evidences I found that 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."