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ODI World Cup 2023: Has there been a pitch-switch to favour India in semifinal clash vs New Zealand?

Controversy arises ahead of ODI World Cup 2023 semifinal as reports suggest a pitch switch at Mumbai's Wankhede Stadium to favour Indian spinners, sparking discussions and speculations about the decision's motivations and impact on the crucial match against New Zealand.

ODI World Cup 2023: Has there been a pitch-switch to favour India in semifinal clash vs New Zealand snt
First Published Nov 15, 2023, 12:57 PM IST

Ahead of the ODI World Cup 2023 semifinal between India and New Zealand at Mumbai's Wankhede Stadium on Wednesday, there are reports suggesting a pitch switch to favor Indian spinners in the crucial match. According to the Daily Mail, the pitch consultant for the International Cricket Council (ICC), Andy Atkinson, initially selected an unused surface from the block of pitches at Wankhede Stadium, in accordance with the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) norms. However, it has now been replaced with a pitch that has already been used twice in the tournament, raising questions about the decision-making process.

Also read: ODI World Cup 2023: Virat Kohli aims to surpass Sachin Tendulkar's records in the semis against New Zealand

The report alleges that the pitch switch has been orchestrated to favour Indian spinners in their match against New Zealand. A WhatsApp message, reportedly sent to Indian and ICC officials, indicates that pitch No. 6 will be used instead of the initially chosen No. 7. Notably, Surface No. 7 had been utilized for the England vs South Africa and India vs Sri Lanka matches during the league stage of the tournament.

According to the Daily Mail report, there was communication to Andy Atkinson, the pitch consultant, stating that there was an unspecified issue with the originally selected surface, prompting the change.

The report additionally highlights that following the opening match between England and New Zealand in Ahmedabad, the subsequent three matches at the venue deviated from the initially chosen surface. This deviation prompted Andy Atkinson to write an email to the ICC, indicating a potential concern or irregularity in the pitch selection process.

The report further alleges that the pitch intended for the final on November 19 has also been changed to favor more spin. In response, the BCCI and the Gujarat Cricket Association purportedly shifted blame onto each other when questioned by Andy Atkinson about who authorized the alteration.

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?"

Also read: Behind the Scenes: Rohit Sharma unveils team India's offbeat rituals ahead of ODI World Cup semifinal

The report also quoted 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."

This development has sparked discussions and speculations about the motivations behind the switch, with some suggesting that it aims to provide an advantage to the Indian spinners in the upcoming high-stakes match against New Zealand. The pitch conditions play a crucial role in determining the course of a cricket match, especially in subcontinent conditions where spinners traditionally play a significant role. The decision to alter the chosen pitch adds an intriguing element to the build-up of the semifinal clash, adding an extra layer of complexity to the strategies of both teams.

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