Rajasthan Royals captain Shane Warne on Wednesday escaped a ban but was fined USD 50,000 for his public spat with RCA secretary Sanjay Dixit, thus clearing the decks for the Australian spin legend's swansong IPL appearance on Friday.
The IPL's Disciplinary Commission, which had summoned both Warne and Dixit for a hearing on Tuesday, decided to let off Warne with only a fine after considering that the Australian cricketer had already apologised for his outburst.
Warne was fined for breach of playing contract and warned of a harsher punishment in case he repeated such an offence.
"The Commission has decided to impose a fine of USD 50,000 upon Mr Warne," a statement from the IPL's Disciplinary Procedure Commission said.
"The Commission is conscious of the duty of all parties involved in the Indian Premier League, to uphold the image and reputation of the game of cricket, the BCCI and the League at all relevant times. Any action which is a breach of this duty is to be treated with all necessary severity."
"It regards the public criticism of Mr Dixit as being a serious breach by Mr Warne of his IPL playing contract. However, at the same time, the Commission also recognises that Mr Warne has apologised to Mr Dixit, and that the incident occurred just after the Match," the statement said.
The Commission said it took into account Warne's contribution to the IPL and to the game of cricket while handing out its verdict.
"In addition, the Commission is cognisant of the contribution to the game of cricket in general, and to the Indian Premier League, which has been made by Mr Warne," it said.
The Commission, which comprised IPL chairman Chirayu Amin and Governing Council member Ravi Shastri, heard representations from both Dixit and Warne during the hearing which lasted close to three hours on Tuesday.
The disciplinary panel also made it clear that any repeat of such offence by Warne or any other person would invite a heftier fine or even a ban.
"The Commission wishes to stress that any future such occurrences committed by Warne or any other person may result in the imposition of a fine, which may be higher than that imposed in this case, a ban for a number of matches, and/or the deduction of points from the relevant team," it said.
There was speculation that Warne would be banned for one match but the verdict has now paved the way for his last IPL appearance against Mumbai Indians at the Wankhede Stadium on Friday.
Warne had only a few days back announced his retirement from IPL but had indicated that he may take up an advisory role with the franchise in the subsequent editions.
Warne is alleged to have publicly insulted Dixit after an IPL match in Jaipur, calling him a "liar and egoistic", forcing RR owner Shilpa Shetty to intervene and apologise for the incident.
The ugly incident took place just after the prize distribution ceremony of the match between RR and RCB at the Sawai Mansingh stadium.
Rajasthan Cricket Association (RCA) had last week lodged a complaint against Warne with the BCCI and the IPL for publicly abusing Dixit for not agreeing to his request of a suitable pitch.
RCA secretary Dixit also filed a separate complaint and had urged the BCCI and IPL to take stern action against Warne for pressuring him to provide a suitable wicket for Rajasthan Royals' home matches.
According to sources, Dixit has forwarded the text messages to BCCI which Warne had repeatedly sent him. When Dixit was asked about the incident, he said Warne's behaviour probably came out of frustration for the team's back-to-back defeats, which almost jeopardised Rajasthan Royals' chances of making it to the play-offs.
The back-to-back defeats at home against Chennai Super Kings and RCB had made Warne furious as he believed that the change of pitch after Sachin Tendulkar's criticism last month following Mumbai Indians' seven-wicket loss had robbed Rajasthan Royals of the home advantage.
After Tendulkar's remark on the pitch, the BCCI had rushed off its Grounds and Wickets Committee chairman, Venkat Sundaram to Jaipur to prepare a new strip for the remaining IPL matches at the ground.
Following an internal disciplinary inquiry by the franchise, Warne tendered his apology to Dixit. RR Chief Executive Sean Morris, in an e-mail to RCA secretary, stated that the franchise had decided to take disciplinary action against Warne and the Australian has accepted it.
But RCA later on convened a meeting of the RCA Legal Affairs Committee on May 15 and considered the apology letter sent by Royals CEO Sean Morris but was unable to take cognizance in the absence of any details.
Accordingly, the committee decided to file a criminal complaint under IPC sections against Warne and others at the earliest.