Coach Irfan Ansari has been banned from all cricket for 10 years for breaching three counts of the ICC Anti-Corruption Code.

Sarfraz Ahmed reported Ansari after he approached the Pakistan captain during a series against Sri Lanka in October 2017, with a view to soliciting information from him.

Ansari, a coach of two teams that play domestic matches in the United Arab Emirates, has been banned for a decade by the governing body - a punishment that was compounded by his failure to cooperate with its investigation.

Alex Marshall, ICC General Manager – ACU said: "I'd like to place on record my thanks to Sarfaraz Ahmed, who showed true leadership and professionalism from the moment he reported this approach.

"He recognised it for what it was, rejected it and reported it. He then supported our investigation and subsequent tribunal.

"This is the first time we have prosecuted for failure to cooperate with an investigation since the new rules enabling us to demand the participants hand over their phone for examination and the sanction reflects the seriousness of the offence.

"It is an important tool to aid our investigations and continue in our efforts to rid the sport of these corrupters."

Tuesday marks 100 days until the Cricket World Cup gets under way when hosts England face South Africa at the Oval.

Starting with that opening clash on May 30, the world's 10 best ODI sides will battle it out over a round-robin phase, from which the strongest four teams will progress to the semi-finals prior to the decider at Lord's on July 14.

Of the nations involved, only half have tasted glory in the ICC's 50-over showpiece, while four of the last five tournaments have been won by Australia.

But the defending champions will not start as favourites this time around - that questionable honour will instead be bestowed on the home side - while Australia will have to cope with the distractions involved in welcoming back two of their best players from ball-tampering suspensions.

How will the holders cope? That question is one of the five major unknowns ahead of the action kicking off in 100 days' time...

 

Baggy Greens to struggle with Smith-Warner baggage?

Australian cricket was rocked last year when captain Steve Smith, his right-hand man David Warner and opening batsman Cameron Bancroft were all banned for their part in the Newlands ball-tampering scandal. Smith and Warner's suspensions are due to expire in March, two months before their first World Cup warm-up fixture against England at the Rose Bowl. As two of the world's finest players, it seems inconceivable that Australia would not select the pair, who will expect a hostile reception from the home crowd but have been around long enough to be able to block out any abuse from the stands. But will the predictable media brouhaha and constant questions surrounding their return become too great a hindrance?

Which Pakistan will turn up?

A global 50-over tournament in England should hold fond memories for Pakistan, who overcame fierce rivals India in the Champions Trophy final at the Oval two years ago. That 180-run hammering came just a fortnight after India had inflicted a 124-run thrashing during the group phase. And that, in a nutshell, is the Pakistan cricket team. They veer from the sublime to the ridiculous on a regular basis, proving consistently capable of looking unbeatable one day to utterly incompetent the next. The likes of Mohammad Amir and Hasan Ali can be devastating with the ball while Fakhar Zaman and Babar Azam are explosive at the top of the order, but bet on Pakistan at your peril. They could go all the way. They could crash out in a series of batting collapses in the round-robin stage. The one guarantee is that it will not be dull.

Will the Universe Boss bow out in a blaze of glory?

At the age of 39, Chris Gayle will take part in his fifth and final World Cup after announcing he will retire from ODIs once the tournament is over. The scorer of the first double-century in World Cup history - smashing 16 sixes in making 215 off 147 balls against Zimbabwe four years ago - the self-styled 'Universe Boss' has spent much of the latter part of his career travelling the globe playing Twenty20 cricket for a number of high-paying franchises. As such, his involvement for the Windies has dwindled, but Gayle still manages to talk the talk - declaring himself "the greatest player in the world" recently. So, as he nears his 40th birthday, can Gayle walk the walk on his World Cup swansong?

Is Dhoni still the ultimate finisher?

If India are to reach the final, it will fall a week after MS Dhoni's 38th birthday. A veteran of well over 300 ODIs dating back to his debut in 2004, the wicketkeeper-batsman has proved himself to be the coolest of customers when the run chase reaches the wire. His unbeaten 91 from 79 balls delivered his country's second title in 2011 and despite moving up and down the order with regularity, he still somehow averages more than 50 with the bat. India fans have a new superstar to worship in the form of captain Virat Kohli, but Dhoni still remains an idol to millions in that part of the world. In recent times Kohli has proven the master of the chase but, in what is sure to be his final World Cup, can Dhoni have the last word, as he has so many times before?

Can England cope with the favourites' tag?

It is an unusual scenario for England, whose ODI fortunes dropped to an all-time low at the last World Cup, where defeats to Australia, New Zealand, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh saw Eoin Morgan's side dumped out in the groups. That elimination proved a watershed moment, however, and in the intervening four years Morgan's men have transformed themselves into the ICC's top-ranked side, playing a brand of cricket that prioritises aggressive, attacking play over a ponderous, patient approach. Their startling evolution is best summed up by a pair of stunning innings at Trent Bridge in the past two and a half years - setting a new ODI record 444-3 against Pakistan in 2016 before smashing that mark with 481-6 against Australia in 2018. Familiar conditions should play into their hands, but will the hosts make light of the weight of expectation? We only have to wait 100 days to find out.

Windies Women won early but Pakistan won when it counted, taking the three-match series 2-1 at the ICC Academy Ground in Dubai on Monday.

Deandra Dottin scored a half-century and took three wickets as Windies Women won the first of three ODIs against Pakistan by 146 runs at the Dubai International Cricket Stadium on Thursday.

Windies Women’s captain Stafanie Taylor said her team will not be taking Pakistan for granted as the two teams prepare to square off in three ODI matches in Dubai beginning on Thursday morning Jamaica time.

Pakistan recovered some pride in the third and final Twenty20 international against South Africa as they eased to a 27-run success.

The Proteas had already sealed a series win with back-to-back victories ahead of this match, having also come out on top in the Tests and the one-day internationals.

But Pakistan ensured there would be some belated positives to take from the contests with a triumph in Centurion.

South Africa looked to have seized control after a bright start from the tourists with the bat, yet Shadab Khan (22) finished out the innings in style and a target of 169 proved far from straightforward.

Although both Rassie van der Dussen (41) and Chris Morris (55 not out) offered some resistance after a dismal powerplay, they were let down by their team-mates and South Africa finished well short on 141-9.

South Africa required the wicket of Babar Azam, who had made 23 off 11 balls, to check the tourists' early momentum, with Morris (2-27) and Beuran Hendricks (4-14) slowing the scoring while others coughed up cheap runs.

A bizarre mix-up between Morris and Tabraiz Shamsi at the boundary gifted Mohammad Rizwan (26) his third four, but the batsman was out from the following delivery as he picked out Junior Dala for Lutho Sipamla's first international wicket.

Pakistan's innings became increasingly error strewn and a messy run out accounted for captain Shoaib Malik (18), before Hussain Talat edged behind with a wild swipe.

As the tourists looked to be recovering some composure, Hendricks came to the fore. He crashed through Imad Wasim (19) and, with Pakistan searching for sixes, saw both Faheem Ashraf and Mohammad Amir pick out fielders from the penultimate over.

But then Shadab smashed 22 off eight deliveries to close out the innings at 168-9 and the tide turned again.

Runs were slow and wickets were swift in the South Africa innings. Van der Dussen battled away, but the Proteas had tallied just 24-2 by the end of the powerplay, the lowest such score on this ground.

A partnership of 36 between Van der Dussen and David Miller was the hosts' largest, but the former was removed by Faheem Ashraf as he sliced a full toss delivery.

There was a brief window of hope for South Africa as Morris hit a brilliant 21 off the 14th over, but his partners failed to keep pace.

Even as the big-hitter passed 50 with a pair of sixes in the final over, Pakistan cruised to the finish.

Sarfraz Ahmed will remain as Pakistan captain for the World Cup, the country's cricket board has confirmed.

Sarfraz's role as skipper was in doubt after he was hit by a four-match ban from the ICC for breaching the body's anti-racism code during the recent ODI series against South Africa.

The 31-year-old was picked up on the stump microphone making remarks that could be construed as racist towards Proteas all-rounder Andile Phehlukwayo during the second of the five-match series.

He later took to Twitter to offer his "sincere apologies" to anyone he may have offended, insisting his words were simply an expression of his frustration and not directed at any individual, while the PCB noted its "utmost disappointment" over the sanction.

In a statement released on Tuesday, the PCB confirmed Sarfraz will retain the captaincy for the World Cup that takes place in England and Wales beginning in May.

"I feel humbled and honoured to be placed in the same bracket as some of the most iconic and legendary cricketers who have previously captained Pakistan at World Cups," said Sarfraz, who led Pakistan to ICC Champions Trophy glory in 2017. 

"It is the dream of any international cricketer to play in a World Cup, but to be appointed captain in the biggest cricket spectacle on the planet is something that is extremely special.

"The reality is that the last few weeks have been extremely difficult for me as a person and professional. But I am delighted that the PCB has reassured its confidence and faith in me. It has boosted my confidence tremendously.

"I am convinced we are in a good shape for the World Cup. We have top quality talent and match-winners with a committed support staff in the dressing room. 

"Everyone is geared up and keenly looking forward to returning to the country where we won the last major ICC tournament.

"In the lead up to the World Cup, Pakistan will play five ODIs each against Australia and England, which will also allow us the opportunity to further fine-tune our preparations. I am sure we'll give a good account of ourselves at the World Cup."

PCB chairman Ehsan Mani added: "I was always clear in my mind that Sarfraz would be the captain. 

"I was keen to speak with him on the team's recent performances as part of the normal review and appraisal process, and, more importantly, about his own future plans as we all know he has undergone some tough times as a professional cricketer in the past few weeks.

"Sarfaraz has reiterated his commitment to the Pakistan cricket team as well as his availability and enthusiasm to captain the team at the World Cup."

The Windies Women are back in Dubai after a 2-1 T20 International series win over Pakistan Women in Karachi over the weekend. 

Stand-in South Africa skipper David Miller felt like "the worst captain on the planet" as Pakistan threatened to take their three-match Twenty20 series to a decider. 

Miller led the hosts with Faf du Plessis rested and scored a sensational 65 off just 29 deliveries to help the Proteas post 188-3 at the Wanderers after play was briefly suspended in the 18th over due to rain. 

The left-hander, who shares the record for the fastest T20 hundred in international cricket, plundered 29 off the final over from Usman Shinwari. 

However, Miller was concerned when Pakistan were 70-1 after the powerplay, Babar Azam (90) leading the charge, and admitted he felt lost at sea. 

"I thought I was the worst captain on the planet," he said with a smile after sealing an unassailable 2-0 lead in the three-match series with a seven-run triumph. "I didn't know what to do, to be honest. 

"They were always going to come hard and try to get as many runs in the powerplay. 

"We didn't start too well with the ball, we were a bit wide and short."

Pakistan needed 42 runs from their last four overs for victory, but Beuran Hendricks picked up the key wicket of Babar before Chris Morris (2-36) and Andile Phehlukwayo (3-36) worked their way through the lower order. 

"It got quite tight and stressful at the back end but the guys pulled through and did incredibly well," said Miller after Pakistan had finished on 181-7. 

"[Tabraiz] Shamsi came in and bowled incredibly well, brought the run-rate down, and [Lutho] Sipamla was absolutely incredible on his first game. As a captain I was really pleased with the two of them and then to top it off with the guys at the back end was really sweet. 

"Really pleasing to finish off on a high. We didn't leave it [the series] until the last game, so really happy about that." 

Imad Wasim removed Janneman Malan to give Pakistan an early breakthrough in the first innings and finished his four overs with stunning figures of 1-9, but captain Shoaib Malik was frustrated the rest of his bowling attack were unable to follow suit. 

Shinwari's four overs proved incredibly expensive as he went for 63 runs, while Hasan Ali conceded 48 as South Africa posted a challenging total.

Shoaib said of Imad: "He's an exceptional talent, and we need a couple of other guys to perform that way.

"Shaheen Afridi bowled brilliantly, it's just you need three or four bowlers to do well, and then you end up chasing 160 on a good wicket.

"Finishing crucial games is where we're lacking. We saw it in the last game as well. We're going to sit and talk about it, particularly the last overs."

David Miller's electric knock and some excellent death bowling ensured Babar Azam's 90 was in vain as South Africa sealed a T20-series victory over Pakistan with a thrilling seven-run win.

Stand-in captain Miller, Man of the Match in the first encounter after a starring role in the field, whacked 65 off 29 balls to guide the Proteas to an imposing 188-3 in Johannesburg.

It appeared as though Pakistan would coast to that total with Babar stroking the ball around for fun as part of a fine 102-run stand with Hussain Talat (55).

But the excellent Beuran Hendricks took the crucial wicket of Babar to leave Pakistan 147-2 in the 17th over before Andile Phehlukwayo (3-36) and Chris Morris (2-36) caught the tourists' middle order cold.

Asif Ali (2), Shoaib Malik (6), Imad Wasim (6) and Hasan Ali (1) all fell as part of Pakistan losing six wickets for 34 runs in the final 24 balls to finish on 181-7, leaving them 2-0 down in the three-match series.

Debutant Janneman Malan and Reeza Hendricks put on 58 for South Africa's first wicket, the former smacking three fours and a couple of sixes before Imad – who in his previous over had bowled a maiden – tossed up a slower one that led to a stumping.

Rassie van der Dussen put on a rapid 45 off 27 after Reeza Hendricks had been run out for 28, before it became the Miller show.

The stand-in captain hit two huge sixes off Hasan Ali and went after the luckless Usman Shinwari (0-63) in the last over, scoring 29 runs in a dazzling blitz.
 
Babar set out his stall early with six boundaries in Pakisan's first two overs and, even after Fakhar Zaman (14) fell, he continued to pile on the runs with Talat allowing him to dominate the strike.

South Africa were looking devoid of ideas and when Talat walloped Morris over midwicket to bring up the century stand it appeared as though a series decider would be on the cards.

But when Babar failed to get enough on Beuran Hendricks' (2-30) slower ball that carried to midwicket, Pakistan completely wilted.

Asif pulled a short Phehlukwayo delivery straight to Reeza Hendricks at midwicket, before Morris bowled Talat and Imad in the penultimate over.

Pakistan needed 15 off the last and a four from Shoaib gave them brief hope.

But Phehlukwayo sent Shoaib and Hasan packing as South Africa completed a dramatic series win with a match to spare.

It means South Africa can now celebrate victory across all three formats in a tour that started on Boxing Day.

A phenomenal fielding display from David Miller helped South Africa secure a six-run win over Pakistan in the first Twenty20 of their series on Friday. 

Reeza Hendricks made 74 at the top of the order while captain Faf du Plessis top-scored with 78 as the Proteas made 192-6 after being put into bat - a record total for an international T20 game at Newlands.

Usman Shinwari was the pick of the Pakistan attack with 3-31, including taking two wickets in the same over, but the tourists came up short in their reply, finishing on 186-9.

Miller was a key figure in helping restrict the chase; he was twice involved in run outs and held four catches, his efforts seeing him named man of the match despite making just 10 with the bat.

The home side triumphed despite the absence of Quinton de Kock, who did not feature in Cape Town due to a groin injury that will also keep him out of the next two fixtures.

Gihahn Cloete took over wicketkeeping duties and also opened the batting, though it was Hendricks who dominated the early overs.

The right-hander hit eight fours and two sixes before becoming Shinwari’s third victim, Shadab Khan hanging on to a tough catch at long on as he moved to his right. 

The same bowler had already removed Du Plessis and Rassie van der Dussen in the space of four deliveries, the latter departing for a duck as his attempt to steer Shinwari to third man only resulted in a spot of catching practice for wicketkeeper Mohammad Rizwan, filling in behind the stumps for the suspended Sarfraz Ahmed. 

Miller was one of five wickets to fall for 35 runs but he produced direct hits in the field to dismiss Babar Azam (38 from 27 deliveries) and Rizwan, who was caught short of his ground when attempting to pinch an overthrow.

The South African batsman also crucially held on to the opportunity to dismiss stand-in skipper Shoaib Malik for 49 midway through a frenetic last over, making sure Pakistan's late charge for victory came up short.

Hussain Talat had earlier made 40 but the visitors must now win when the teams next meet in Johannesburg on Sunday to keep the series alive.

Deandra Dottin won the second T20 international for the Windies Women against Pakistan in a Super Over on Friday after the teams ended in a tie after the regulation 20 overs.

Windies Women’s batsman Deandra Dottin was extremely pleased with a blistering half-ton, which lifted the team to a crushing 71-run win over Pakistan, in Karachi, on Thursday.

In the first of three T20s between the teams, Dottin cracked an unbeaten 90 as the regional team compiled a solid 160 for 2, before dismissing Pakistan for 89. 

The all-rounder got off to a fiery start, gathering 29 of the team’s 41 runs inside the Powerplay.  Dottin’s innings consisted of 8 fours and 4 sixes.

 “I have been working on my innings.  When I assessed the conditions, I found that the pitch was a good batting pitch,” Dottin said after the match.

“It wasn’t my plan to go at them early, but the first ball fell into my area so I just went with it,” she added.

In her time at the crease, Dottin received solid support from Chedean Nation who added an unbeaten 50 as the two put on 109 runs in 11.4 overs.

“It was very good batting with Chedean Nation.  I haven’t batted with her in a while.  It’s good to see her hitting the ball, she batted really well and ran between the wickets really.”

The West Indies women are making their first appearance in Pakistan in 15 years.  The next two matches are on Friday and Sunday, in Karachi.

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