Chances of participation of all-rounder Hardik Pandya and opener Lokesh Rahul in the three-ODI series against Australia, starting in Sydney on Saturday, are bleak as the duo has been suspended for their controversial comments during a television talk show.
The decision comes after Diana Edulji, the woman member of the Supreme Court-appointed Committee of Administrators (CoA), advocated suspension of the two until the quantum of sentence is announced.
CoA Chairman Vinod Rai had earlier recommended a two-ODI ban for them but Diana decided to seek legal opinion before taking any action.
"Based on legal opinion and till the time the final procedure is laid down to address this issue, (I) will recommend that a communication be sent to the players concerned and the team immediately," Diana wrote in an email, accessed by IANS.
"It will be imperative that the players be put under suspension till a further course of action is decided for this misconduct," the mail added.
In this regard, a five-member Apex Council comprising the elected office bearers -- President, Vice President, Secretary, Joint Secretary and Treasurer -- has been formed to conduct the probe.
'I can definitely say that as the Indian cricket team and responsible cricketers we definitely don't align with those views'— ESPNcricinfo (@ESPNcricinfo) January 11, 2019
Virat Kohli on the comments made by Hardik Pandya and KL Rahul on an Indian TV show https://t.co/AnIOSF1aJT pic.twitter.com/0FxQxRp5tE
COA member Diana Edulji: It will be imperative that the players(Hardik Pandya and KL Rahul) be put under suspension till a further course of action is decided for this misconduct as was done in the case of CEO when he was sent on leave in the sexual harassment matter. pic.twitter.com/OM03YjMbHO— ANI (@ANI) January 11, 2019
COA letter to Hardik Pandya and KL Rahul: You are hereby suspended with immediate effect from participating in any manner whatsoever in any match or activity authorized or supported by the BCCI, the ICC or any State Association, until final adjudication of the matter. pic.twitter.com/IdskS6eajX— ANI (@ANI) January 11, 2019
Virat Kohli on KL Rahul & Hardik Pandya, in Australia: We as the Indian cricket team and responsible cricketers don't align with those views, those were individual opinions. We are still waiting for a decision to be made. pic.twitter.com/ECSnmyOegC— ANI (@ANI) January 11, 2019
According to media reports, the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) has decided that the two players should be sent home from Australia.
The duo had made an appearance in a popular television talk show hosted by filmmaker Karan Johar during which they made several comments which were widely perceived to be sexist and vulgar.
Following intense criticism, Pandya had issued an apology in social media although Rahul is yet to come up with his reaction.
In the given scenario, India will be compelled to take the field without Pandya and Rahul in the series opener at the Sydney Cricket Ground (SCG).
According to a BCCI source, Rahul is not in the first choice of playing XI, while Pandya is also out at least of the first ODI even as the team management is still awaiting a final call.
Earlier on Friday, breaking his silence on the allegedly sexist comments made by Pandya and Rahul, India skipper Virat Kohli denounced the duo's statements and said the team management is still waiting for a decision on them.
Terming the comments as "inappropriate", the 30-year-old skipper said the belief in the dressing room is completely different from the individual comments of the two young players.
"We as the Indian cricket team and responsible cricketers do not support such views," Kohli said during the pre-match press conference in Sydney.
"The two players concerned have realised what has gone wrong and they have understood the magnitude of what has happened," he added.
On being asked about the possible combination if the two are banned, Kohli said: "From the combination and team balance point of view, yes, you'll have to think about the combination you'll need then.
"You don't have control over these things so you have to address it the way it unfolds. That's how we are looking at it ... the combinations will have to be looked at when the decision comes and from there on we'll see what needs to be done about the whole situation."