‘Will it be selected or prepared without favouritism?’: India accused of pitch swap ahead of crucial World Cup semi and final

You can set your watch to it: just hours before the first ball is bowled in Mumbai, hosts India have been accused of shenanigans regarding the pitch on which they will play New Zealand in the Cricket World Cup semi-final.

The Daily Mail is reporting that the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) has intervened to choose a pitch for Tuesday night’s clash with the Black Caps, against the rules of the International Cricket Council (ICC), who have their own consultant in charge of pitches.

The pitch set to be used on Tuesday is now one that has already been used twice previously at the World Cup, which could provide an advantage to spinners, as opposed to a fresh, unused pitch that had been selected by the ICC.

The game was scheduled to be on Pitch number 7, but now will be Pitch 6, which was the strip from England v South Africa and India’s previous game with Sri Lanka, according to a text message shared with 50 officials from both the BCCI and ICC.

The Mail reports that the ICC had been told that there is an ‘unspecified problem’ with Pitch 7, but that ICC overseer Andy Atkinson, disagrees.

Furthermore, it is reported that if India reach the final, to be held at the Narendra Modi Stadium in Ahmedabad, then further changes could take place.

Though the opening match between England and New Zealand was played on the allotted pitch, Atkinson was not informed that three three other games at the cavernous arena were not played on the scheduled wickets.

The ICC plan is for Pitch 5 to be used for the final, a pitch that has been used just once so far, but that it might be Pitch 6 at Ahmedabad which is chosen.

Pitch 5 was that used for India’s win over Pakistan, a game that was supposed to have been played on Pitch 7 but wasn’t.

When the ICC questioned the mix-up, they were bounced between the BCCI, who are organising the tournament, and the Gujarat Cricket Association (GCA), who run the stadium. The GCA have alleged that they used pitches per the instructions of the BCCI, which in turn come from the Indian team themselves.

“As a result of these actions, one must speculate if this will be the first ever ICC CWC [Cricket 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,” said an email from Atkinson seen by the Mail.

“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?”

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