In a surprising turn of events, India is facing accusations of switching the pitch for their crucial World Cup semifinal against New Zealand in Mumbai without the official permission of the International Cricket Council (ICC). Reports from the Daily Mail suggest that Indian officials changed the surface, potentially favoring their world-class spin attack in this crucial match.
ICC consultant Andy Atkinson, in collaboration with the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI), had agreed on a specific pitch for the semifinal match. However, it is now alleged that this agreement was ignored, and the match will be played on a surface used twice during the tournament.
According to the Daily Mail, a Whatsapp message was circulated to 50 Indian and ICC officials, confirming the unexpected switch from surface No 7 to No 6, which had hosted previous pool matches. Atkinson was informed of an unspecified problem with the original surface, raising concerns about the transparency of the decision-making process.
This controversy adds to the existing debate as reports emerged about changes in pitch selections for the final to be held in Ahmedabad. Atkinson had recommended pitch No 5, used only once, but it appears the final will be played on No 6, which has been used twice in the pool matches and is likely to generate more spin.
The accusations have triggered speculation about potential favoritism in pitch selection, raising questions about the fairness of the competition. The BCCI pointed fingers at the Gujarat Cricket Association, while the association claimed that requests for changes came directly from the Indian team management.
This development follows earlier reports from the Indian Express, indicating that BCCI curators were instructed to shave off most of the grass on the Wankhede Stadium playing surface ahead of the semifinal. The move was reportedly influenced by the Indian team’s preference for a slow pitch, raising concerns about the impact of such decisions on the integrity of the tournament.
As the cricket world awaits the outcome of these controversies, questions linger about the transparency and fairness of pitch selection in one of the most significant cricket tournaments globally. The International Cricket Council is yet to comment on the allegations, leaving fans and pundits in suspense about the true nature of these pitch-related controversies.