Legendary India cricketer Sunil Gavaskar launched a scathing attack on the reports that came up with conspiracy theories about the pitch for the India vs New Zealand semi-final at the Wankhede Stadium in Mumbai was changed at the last minute to favour Indian spinners. On the eve of the semi-final, there were a couple of reports that claimed the Mumbai Cricket Association and BCCI had changed the pitch for the semi-final and selected a used 22 yards to suit the Indian spinners.
However, as things panned out, more than 700 runs were scored and it was the pacers who picked up the most wickets. Virat Kohli, Shreyas Iyer, and Daryl Mitchell smashed centuries. Shubman Gill and Kane Williamson hit half-centuries while fast bowler Mohammed Shami became the first Indian to take 7 wickets in an ODI. It was anything but slow as batters from both sides played through the line and seamers enjoyed good carry.
Gavaskar asked the critics to “shut up” and stop taking “potshots” at Team India for attracting eyeballs. “When India reaches the final of any multi-nation tournament, it is always a matter of great pride and if it is the World Cup, it’s that much more special. India have done it in style. They scored close to 400 runs, and had that extra 70-80 runs cushion. This has been such a wonderful pitch. We’ve got more than 700 runs scored on this. All those morons who have been saying that the pitch has been charged to favour the Indian spinners, I hope they just shut up, stop taking potshots at India just because it helps you to get whatever eyeballs. It’s nonsense. Even if it was changed, it was done before the toss. It wasn’t changed after the toss or in the middle of the innings. You are a World Cup team, you play on that pitch, you win. India have done that. So stop talking about the pitch,” Gavaskar said on Star Sports after India beat New Zealand by 70 runs to enter the final.
The former India captain said there are already talks about the Ahmedabad pitch being changed to suit India even before the semi-finals were completed. “Already they are talking about Ahmedabad pitch being changed when the second semi-final hasn’t even taken place,” Gavaskar told the broadcasters after the match.”
The International Cricket Council (ICC) also later clarified that the independent pitch consultant Andy Atkinson was taken into confidence before the change of surface.
“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 said in a statement.
The ICC said Atkinson, its independent pitch consultant, was aware of the change.
“The ICC independent pitch consultant was apprised of the change and has no reason to believe the pitch won’t play well,” said the ICC.
As per the ICC’s ‘playing conditions’ for the World Cup, the host association is “responsible for the selection and preparation of the pitch” and there is no requirement that a knockout match must be played on fresh pitches.
Australian captain Pat Cummins also did not read too much into the pitch episode.
However, former England skipper Michael Vaughan had said that a fresh pitch should be used for the semi-final.
“A World Cup semi should be played on a fresh pitch .. It’s as simple as that,” Vaughan had posted on X, formerly Twitter.