World Cup: Pitch-switch controversy hits India vs New Zealand semis, ICC dismisses claims
“Changes to planned pitch rotations are common towards the end of an event of this length, and have already happened a couple of times,” the ICC said.
MUMBAI: As reports that the BCCI had switched pitches for the semifinal against New Zealand at the Wankhede Stadium in Mumbai without the ICC's permission started swirling into a controversy ahead of the first semifinal, the global cricketing body has denied the claims stating that there was no malice in what happened.
Hours ahead of the semifinal, there were reports that the pitch for the game between India-New Zealand is expected to be on the slower side. One such report from an English daily alleged that the BCCI have changed the pitches last minute without the permission of the ICC, adding that an used surface was opted for the game instead of a fresh pitch that was reserved for the knockouts.
The report also pointed out that the ICC’s independent pitch consultant, Andy Atkinson, who is supervising the pitches for the World Cup, was not aware of the changes that were made. This apparently was not just for the semifinal but was spread out during the tournament.
Mumbai has been a high-scoring venue through the World Cup and new ball bowlers have gotten significant assistance under lights. The reports stated that Indian team management had preferred a pitch that is on the slower side, which is why the pitch was changed before the all-important semifinal.
The ICC, however, denied the claims stating that the decision to use what pitch is taken by them in consultation with the hosts. They also said that Atkinson was made aware of the changes. "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,” an ICC spokesperson said.
While, according to ICC, there are no such rules in the ICC playing conditions, the controversial news came as a shocker both for the global body as well as the BCCI. India are searching for their first ICC trophy in ten years and are two games away from winning, having dominated the league stages with nine wins in as many games.