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Express ban on slow Sourav

Calcutta, April 12: Where match referee-convened disciplinary hearings go, the one in Motera today after the fourth ODI versus Pakistan will rank among the shortest.

According to The Telegraph's sources, Chris Broad needed just 'five minutes' to ban Team India captain Sourav Ganguly for six ODIs.

It capped a terrible day as his team failed to defend even 315. The six-match series is now tied 2-2.

Unless an ICC appeals commissioner quashes/reduces the unprecedented punishment, Sourav is not only out of the last two matches (Kanpur and New Delhi), but the first four of the July-August tri-series in Sri Lanka.

The selectors have already dropped him for the remainder of this series and recalled Sridharan Sriram.

Rahul Dravid is the stand-in captain yet again.

Sourav, one learns, is almost surely going to seek a review. His chief argument: The slow over rate wasn't intentional and the spirit of the game wasn't violated.

The match referee and the umpires deemed India fell three overs short and the captain had to take the rap.

'Having been fined and warned after the last ODI (Jamshedpur), Sourav didn't try to defend himself. However, more than once, he asked whether allowances had been made for stoppages etc.,' a source who attended the hearing said.

Broad replied 'yes' each time.

The match referee booked Sourav for a Level 3 breach of the ICC's code of conduct, the penalty being a ban between two and four Tests or between four and eight ODIs.

In Jamshedpur, last Saturday, he was guilty of a Level 2 offence. Any repeat, within 12 months, gets upgraded to Level 3.

If Sourav does appeal, the BCCI is bound to extend all support, as was done when Clive Lloyd banned him for two Tests after the Platinum Jubilee ODI against Pakistan last November.

That ban, though, was overturned by Tim Castle.

The BCCI hasn't formally reacted (barring general comments by Ranbir Singh Mahendra and Goutam Das Gupta). In any case, Broad's communication has been verbal.

The written bit will be provided by the ICC.

Significantly, according to BCCI counsel Usha Nath Banerjee, who featured in the Sourav-Lloyd face-off, the captain has 'grounds to seek a review of the harsh punishment'.

Elaborating, he said: 'Treating the slow over rate as a Level 3 offence isn't anything more than a mechanical operation by the match referee. In fact, it's contrary to the principles of natural justice.

'Moreover, the code of conduct has to be amended before any failure to maintain over rates can be treated as a ban-inviting grave offence.'

While calls didn't go through to Sourav's cell, he telephoned wife Dona and asked her not to leave for New Delhi.

She was to have joined him there before Team India left for Lucknow, en route to Kanpur, tomorrow afternoon.

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