In a surprising turn of events ahead of India’s ICC World Cup semi-final clash against New Zealand at Mumbai’s Wankhede Stadium, a report has emerged regarding a last-minute switch of the originally chosen fresh pitch to a used one to assist Indian spinners. According to a report by Daily Mail, the International Cricket Council’s (ICC) pitch consultant, Andy Atkinson, had initially selected an unused surface from the block of pitches at Wankhede Stadium, following the norms and in agreement with the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI).
However, the report has alleged that the chosen pitch has been changed to one that has already seen action twice in the tournament. The report claims that it was done to favor Indian spinners in this crucial encounter against the Kiwis. A Whatsapp message, as reported by Daily Mail, notified Indian and ICC officials about the change, indicating that pitch No. 6 would be used instead of the originally designated No. 7, which hosted matches between England and South Africa, and India and Sri Lanka in the league stage.
The report alleges that Atkinson was informed of an unspecified problem with the initially selected surface, leading to the switch. Notably, the same report points out that after the opening match between England and New Zealand in Ahmedabad, the following three matches at the venue were not played on the pre-selected surface, prompting Atkinson to write an email to the ICC. The email, as quoted in Daily Mail, raises concerns about whether the pitch for the final on November 19 has also been altered to favor a spinning track.
Atkinson’s email, as reported by the Daily Mail, read: “As a result of these actions, one must speculate if this will be the first ever (World Cup) final to have a pitch which has been specifically chosen and prepared to their stipulation at the request of the team management and/or the hierarchy of the home nation board. Or will it be selected or prepared without favouritism for either of the sides competing in the match in the usual manner, and unquestionably because it is the usual pitch for the occasion?”
The report also includes a response from a BCCI official, stating, “The ICC independent pitch consultant works with the host and venues on their proposed pitch allocations, and this process is ongoing throughout an event of this length and nature.”
Meanwhile, Indian cricket legend Sunil Gavaskar has played down the issue. “The pitch is same for all the teams, so there shouldn’t be too much discussion on what this pitch will do or not do. I believe that this Indian team is perfectly capable of handling any kind of surface. Yes, there will be one which there might be just a little bit of spin, no question about it. But the Mumbai pitch is generally very good for bating, so I don’t think there should be too much of an issue. With the kind of bowling that we have, bowlers who have bowled superbly, whether they are bowling first or second, I don’t think the pitch would be too much of an issue at all.”