Controversy erupted ahead of Wednesday’s World Cup semifinal fixture between India and New Zealand, with reports claiming that the pitch for the marquee fixture was switched against the International Cricket Council (ICC) agreement in a bid to aid Indian spinners.
However, India captain Rohit Sharma played down the issue after winning the toss and opting to bat first. “It looks a good pitch, a little on the slower side but whatever we do, we have to do it well,” he said at the toss.
Earlier, The Daily Mail reported that, as per the initial agreement, the semifinal clash was supposed to be played on surface No 7, which was unused for any of the four group matches played in the venue.
However, without keeping Andy Atkinson, the ICC’s independent pitch consultant, in the loop, the match was shifted to strip No. 6, which was already used for a couple of games.
Speaking to Sportstar, an ICC spokesperson said, “Changes to planned pitch rotations are common towards the end of an event of this length, and has already happened a couple of times. This change was made on the recommendation of the venue curator in conjunction with our host.”
“The ICC independent pitch consultant was apprised of the change and has no reason to believe the pitch won’t play well,” the spokesperson added.
The ICC’s Playing Conditions for the World Cup specify that the respective ‘ground authority’ is ‘responsible for the selection and preparation of the pitch’ before it hosts any fixture.
A couple of days ago, India’s head coach Rahul Dravid and his assistants - Paras Mhambrey and Vikram Rathour - had a long discussion with the Mumbai Cricket Association curator, while BCCI’s seasoned curators Ashish Bhowmick and Taposh Chatterjee were also present.
The last four games at this venue have been high-scoring games, and in the first three games, the teams batting first had the last laugh.
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