ICC agreed that the pitch at Wankhede Stadium in Mumbai was changed before the India vs New Zealand World Cup 2023 semi-final but it was done only after consulting with the ICC’s independent pitch consultant. The first semi-final is being played on a used pitch. As soon as the news became public, there was a lot of debate on whether it was against the rules for the venue curators to recommend a last-minute change of pitch for an ICC event and that a fresh pitch should have been used for a big match like a World Cup semi-final. ICC, in an official statement, quashed the conspiracy theories and said that “planned pitch rotations” are quite “common” towards the end of such a big tournament.
“Changes to planned pitch rotations are common towards the end of an event of this length, and has already happened a couple of times,” an ICC spokesperson said.
The statement also clarified that the change was made on the recommendation of the venue curator and the go-ahead from ICC’s independent pitch consultant, Andy Atkinson.
“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,” the statement read.
What do ICC’s rules say about pitches for World Cup games?
Notably, there is no mention of a fresh pitch being mandatory for a World Cup knockout game in the ICC playing conditions. “It is expected that venues that are allocated the responsibility of hosting a match will present the best possible pitch and outfield conditions for that match.”
Used pitches generally aid spinners, which could be a boon to an India side with Ravindra Jadeja and Kuldeep Yadav as two of its frontline bowlers.
The semi-finals of the 2019 World Cup in England were played on fresh pitches, but used pitches were provided for the semi-finals of last year’s T20 World Cup in Australia.
Which pitch is being used for India vs New Zealand World Cup semi-final?
Both Britain’s Daily Mail and the ESPNCricinfo website reported the India-New Zealand semi-final was initially supposed to be played on pitch seven, the central strip at Mumbai’s Wankhede Stadium as it was not used during the round-robin stage of the World Cup.
Instead, the match is being played on pitch six, the surface used for South Africa’s 229-run win over England on October 21, and India’s 302-run victory over Sri Lanka on November 2.
A source quoted by ESPNcricinfo said this represented a deviation from the pre-tournament pitch allocation.
“6-8-6-8-7 was the planned rotation at Wankhede,” the source said. “6-8-6-8 is what has been used so far.”
According to the ICC’s tournament playing conditions, the relevant ground authority — in this case, the Mumbai Cricket Association (MCA) – “is responsible for the selection and preparation of the pitch” before any given match”.
Pat Cummins has no issues with pitches in World Cup
The winners of Wednesday’s match will face either Australia or South Africa, who play in Kolkata on Thursday, in the final.
Australia captain Pat Cummins said Wednesday he had confidence in the integrity of the ICC’s pitch process.
“Yeah, I saw that (the report)…obviously ICC have an independent pitch curator who manages that so I’m sure they are all over making sure it’s fair for both teams,” Cummins said.
“So far this tournament (on pitches) that we’ve played on I’ve not seen any issue.”