India opener Gautam Gambhir was banned for one test Friday for elbowing Australian bowler Shane Watson during the first day of the third test.

Gambhir, who pleaded guilty to the Level 2 offense, will miss the final test of the series against Australia in Nagpur from Thursday.

Match referee Chris Broad told Gambhir of the decision before the third days play, having considered the evidence overnight after Thursdays hearing on the charge of not conducting play “within the spirit of the game as well as within the laws of cricket.” In-form Gambhir, who scored 206 in India’s 613-7 declared, following a century in the second test, had a series of verbal clashes with Watson during the middle session on day one.

They had an argument in the 51st over of the first innings when Gambhir took his first run and then caught Watson in the chest with his left elbow as he ran the second.

“The decision to find Gambhir guilty of a Level 2 offense is indicative of the fact that any degree of physical contact is unacceptable,” Broad said.

“Had Gambhir been charged with and found guilty of a charge under 2.4 (for deliberate or inappropriate physical contact), due to his previous offense, I would have been obliged to impose a minimum penalty of a two-test match ban.

“In the view of the umpires, the facts of this case – the lightness of the physical conduct and the element of provocation – would not justify such a penalty.” Broad took into account Gambhirs previous fine for running into Pakistans Shahid Afridi in 2007 – for which he was fined 65 percent of his match fee – and said India’s opener should learn from the incident.

The left-hander has 24 hours to appeal.

“It wasn’t deliberate, it just happened,” Gambhir told reporters Wednesday. “I didn’t need to get into this argument with Shane Watson because he had no option of getting me out.

“There wasn’t a need for me to stick my elbow out, it just happened.” Watson was found to have been “verbally engaging with Gambhir in a manner that was not in keeping the spirit of cricket” and was fined 10 percent of his match fee.

The allrounder pleaded not guilty to the Level 1 charge and has no right to appeal.

The punishments follow the case of India paceman Zaheer Khan, who was docked 80 percent of his match fee last week for aggressive celebration of the dismissal of Matthew Hayden.

The tense series, which India currently leads 1-0, follows a similarly ill-tempered series between the teams in Australia in 2007-08, which the home side won 2-1.