In a surprising development just before the highly anticipated 2023 World Cup semi-final between India and New Zealand in Mumbai, allegations have emerged claiming that India may have manipulated the pitch to favor their team.
The much-awaited showdown at the Wankhede Stadium, set to begin at 2 pm local time on November 15, took an unexpected turn when reports suggested that the originally designated pitch, number seven, had been swapped for pitch number six.
As per the Daily Mail, the first semi-final was supposed to be on pitch seven, which had not been used in the World Cup before. However, ICC’s independent pitch consultant, Andy Atkinson, is now under scrutiny for allegedly disregarding the pre-agreed pitch selection. Pitch six, previously used in the World Cup for the India-Sri Lanka and England-South Africa matches, is now the chosen battleground. This sudden change has sparked speculation that it might favor India’s formidable spin attack.
Andy Atkinson, responsible for overseeing pitch preparation in ICC tournaments, was reportedly informed of an unspecified issue with pitch seven, leading to suspicions that India aimed to tailor the pitches to their advantage. The controversy deepens with concerns raised about the upcoming final scheduled at the Narendra Modi Stadium in Ahmedabad on November 19.
The Daily Mail highlighted similar concerns for the final, where three out of four matches deviated from the agreed-upon pitches at the venue without prior ICC approval. The blame game ensued, with the BCCI and Gujarat Cricket Association (GCA) shifting responsibility onto each other, leaving a cloud of uncertainty over the pitch selection process.
In an email disclosed by the Daily Mail, Atkinson expressed apprehensions regarding the pitch neutrality, questioning whether the final would mark the first ICC CWC final with a pitch specifically chosen to cater to a team’s stipulations. The email raised concerns about potential favoritism towards the home team
It’s noteworthy that the two World Cup matches played on pitch number six at the Wankhede Stadium occurred nearly two weeks prior, on October 21 and November 2. As the controversy unfolds, India won the toss and elected to bat first in this critical semi-final clash. The cricketing world now watches closely to see how this pitch controversy might impact the outcome of the high-stakes match.