All hell broke loose after British newspaper the Daily Mail reported that the Board of Control for Cricket in India and the Indian team management, under coach Rahul Dravidhad got the pitch (No.7) for the match changed at the last minute, without the permission of theInternational Cricket Council, in a move to aid their world-class spinners.
The pitch (No. 6) eventually selected for the semifinal was the one that was used for the England-South Africa and the India-Sri Lanka games at the Wankhede earlier in the tournament. The semifinal was originally scheduled to be played on a fresh wicket, chosen by ICC’s independant pitch consultant Andy Atkinson. There are no clauses with regards to selection of pitch strips.
However, in a move which seemed to be aimed at doing damage control, the ICC later clarified that the “pitch changes are common in a tournament as long as the World Cup, and that the ICC’s independent pitch consultant was apprised of the change and has no reason to believe the pitch won’t play well.”
“Changes to planned pitch rotations are common towards the end of an event of this length, and have 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 ICC spokesperson told TOI.
In an explosive report, the Daily Mail wrote that there were fears that “India could do the same if India reach Sunday’s final at the Narendra Modi Stadium in Ahmedabad, where three of the four group games have been played on different surfaces from those on the schedule.”
As per clause 6.3 of the Playing Conditions for this World Cup, the ‘Ground Authority shall be responsible for the selection and preparation of the pitch.’ The authority in this case being the Mumbai Cricket Association, whose curators will have worked in synergy with ICC’s independent pitch consultant.
World Cup 2023: India win toss, choose to bat first against New Zealand in first semifinal