MUMBAI: The cricket World Cup semi-final betw­een India and New Zealand in Mumbai on Wednesday was being played on a used pitch, sparking concerns the tournament hosts had tried to manipulate conditions in their favour.

Both Britain’s Daily Mail and the ESPNCricinfo website reported the match was initially supposed to be played on pitch seven, the central strip at the Wankh­ede Stadium, a surface unused in the group stages.

However, the game was switched to pitch six, the sur­face used for two matches.

According to the Interna­tional Cricket Council’s tournament playing conditions, the relevant ground authority “is responsible for the selection and preparation of the pitch” before any given match.

The Daily Mail claimed the ICC’s independent pitch consultant Andy Atki­­nson was frustrated by changes to pre-tournament plans.

They quoted a leaked email in which he speculated whether the pitch for Sunday’s final in Ahmed­abad “will be the first ever ICC CWC 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”.

Meanwhile, the ICC insisted there was nothing untoward with the change in pitch at the Wankhede.

“Changes to planned pitch rotations are common towards the end of an event of this length, and has already happened a couple of times,” said a spokesperson. “This change was made on the recommendation of the venue curator in conjunction with our host.”

Published in Dawn, November 16th, 2023

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