Pakistan's World Cup hopes suffered a jolt after their cavalier all-rounder Shahid Afridi was banned for four one-dayers for bringing the game into disrepute.
Afridi was charged with a Level 3 offence after an incident which took place following the batsman's dismissal during the first ODI against South Africa at Centurion on February 4.
As the player walked up a set of stairs towards the dressing room, a spectator apparently said something to him and Afridi reacted by appearing to push his bat at the person in an aggressive manner, causing the spectator to take evasive action.
The disciplinary hearing took place on Saturday in Cape Town and was be presided over by ICC Match Referee for the series, Chris Broad.
"I took into account what I considered to be the mitigating circumstances of a spectator in close proximity to the player shouting at him as he returned to the dressing room," Broad said in a statement.
"I also spoke to the spectator in question ahead of the hearing to get his version of events.
"However, I found it impossible to escape the conclusion that Afridi's actions were a clear threat to that spectator and had that person not taken evasive action then the bat would almost certainly have hit him."
Broad, however, believed that the authorities needed to keep the spectators away from such proximity to players.
"I do not believe spectators should be that close to the players or that they should feel they can shout whatever they like and think that is acceptable," he said.
"That is a view I have expressed to Cricket South Africa."
As per the ICC rules, the ban has to be served in the immediate matches to follow.
Since only two ODIs remain in the current series, Afridi will have to sit out of Pakistan's first two matches of the World Cup.
But Afridi can appeal against the ban since he was charged with a Level 3 offence. And he has to do so in the next 24 hours.
If Afridi decides to appeal he will continue to be eligible to play until the appeal is heard.
The rejection of the appeal, however, would mean that he could end up missing more matches at the quadrennial event.