New Delhi: Indian cricketers Hardik Pandya and K L Rahul have been suspended pending an inquiry into their comments on women on a TV show, the Committee of Administrators (CoA) chairman Vinod Rai told PTI. The cricketers, who have been in the eye of a storm following their sexist remarks on ‘Koffee with Karan’, will be returning from Australia where they were to compete in an ODI series starting Saturday.”Both Pandya and Rahul have been suspended pending an inquiry,” Rai told PTI

The decision comes after Rai’s colleague in the CoA, former India women’s captain, Diana Edulji recommended suspension till further action against the two. This after the BCCI ‘s legal team had confirmed that the CoA could suspend the players, but had to complete the inquiry process within a term of six months.

“Taking into account the relevant rules of the BCCI and considering that the inquiry process against the concerned players has commenced and is pending, it is open for the COA to suspend the concerned players (along with their privileges and benefits) pending enquiry and proceeding into the charges of misconduct until final adjudication. The suspension will however cease, if the said adjudication is not completed within six months,” the legal cell’s reply to the CoA read.

“It is imperative that players be put under suspension till further course of action is decided for this misconduct as was done in case of (BCCI) CEO (Rahul Johri) when he was sent on leave on sexual harassment matter,” read Edulji’s response to the legal opinion.

Earlier, in the day, Indian captain Virat Kohli said the team doesn’t align with the duo’s views, calling them individual opinions. However, Kohli stressed it doesn’t impact the spirit of the side.

“From the Indian cricket team point of view, any inappropriate comments that are made in that scenario are something that we definitely don’t support and the two concerned players felt what has gone wrong and they have understood the magnitude of what’s happened,” Kohli said.

“Definitely it has to hit anyone hard, they will definitely understand the things that have not gone right.

“We, definitely, as the Indian cricket team do not support views like that and that has been communicated. I can definitely say that as the Indian cricket team and responsible cricketers we definitely don’t align with those views and those are purely individual views.

“We are still waiting for a decision to be made but from the Indian cricket team point of view this changes nothing in terms of our beliefs in the change room. It does nothing to the spirit that we’ve been able to create within the change room and these are purely individual opinions and something as I said which is inappropriate.”

The absence of Pandya in particular will affect the balance of the playing XI as he provides an all-round option. Pandya hasn’t played for India since he was ruled out with injury during the Asia Cup last September and was called up mid-way through the Test series though he wasn’t included in the playing XI for the final two Tests in Melbourne and Sydney. Rahul had a wretched series with the bat in the Tests, and wasn’t expected to make the cut into the playing XI in any case.

“From the combination and team balance point of view, yes, you’ll have to think about the combination you’ll need now,” Kohli said in his media interaction. “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 out and from there on we’ll see what needs to be done about the whole situation.”

The controversy had exploded when on the show, Pandya had boasted about hooking up with multiple women. His comments were slammed as misogynistic, and drew a lot of flak from all corners especially on social media. It prompted the CoA to send a showcause notice to the duo. The all-rounder, in response, said he was sincerely regretful and would not repeat the behaviour.

The CoA chief Vinod Rai then recommended the two-match ban in consultation with the other member Diana Edulji, but a final decision is set to be taken after the latter’s formal go-ahead.

“I am not convinced with Hardik’s explanation and I have recommended a two-match ban for both players. However, the final decision will be taken once Diana gives her go ahead,” Rai said.

Meanwhile, Australia named their playing XI for the first ODI, with veteran fast bowler Peter Siddle set to play his first ODI in eight years.

According to Cricket.com.au, Jhye Richardson, Jason Behrendorff and Nathan Lyon will join the 34-year-old Siddle as the four specialist bowlers in the XI.

Finch will partner Alex Carey at the top of the order, with Usman Khawaja named to come in at number three. The middle order comprises of Shaun Marsh, Peter Handscomb, Marcus Stoinis and Glenn Maxwell.

After his surprise recall, Siddle on Thursday had said, “It’s something I’d probably forgotten about really. I never thought I’d get the opportunity to play one-day cricket for Australia again. So yeah, I feel like a young kid getting this first opportunity, so it’s pretty nice to get that phone call and be around the squad and have the potential to play an ODI after a long time away.”

Australia: Aaron Finch (c), Alex Carey (wk), Usman Khawaja, Shaun Marsh, Peter Handscomb, Marcus Stoinis, Glenn Maxwell, Nathan Lyon, Peter Siddle, Jhye Richardson, Jason Behrendorff

First Published: January 11, 2019, 4:52 PM IST