Men's ODI WC: India-New Zealand semi-final to be on used pitch, instead of fresh surface, say reports

by IANS |

Mumbai, Nov 15 (IANS) The first semi-final of the 2023 ICC Men’s Cricket World Cup, to be played between India and New Zealand at the Wankhede Stadium in Mumbai on Wednesday afternoon, will be played on a used pitch instead of a fresh surface.

A report in ESPNCricinfo says Wednesday’s semi-final was initially supposed to be played on pitch 7, the central strip of the stadium, which hasn’t been used in the World Cup so far. But a decision was made to shift the game to pitch 6.

Pitch 6 is slightly off-centre and has already hosted two World Cup league matches: South Africa beating England by a huge 229 runs on October 21, and India thrashing Sri Lanka by 302 runs on November 2.

Both India and New Zealand were having a close look at the pitch while preparing for Wednesday’s highly-anticipated clash. "6-8-6-8-7 was the planned rotation at Wankhede. 6-8-6-8 is what has been used so far," a source was quoted as saying in the report.

The ICC's Playing Conditions for the World Cup state that the relevant ground authority is "responsible for the selection and preparation of the pitch" before any match in the tournament. In the case of the semi-final at Mumbai, it is the Mumbai Cricket Association (MCA).

The ICC also have an independent pitch consultant, Andy Atkinson, who works alongside local groundstaff. Daily Mail reported on Wednesday that Atkinson has become frustrated by changes to pre-agreed plans throughout the World Cup, including for the final at the Narendra Modi Stadium.

“As a result of these actions, one must speculate if this 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.”

“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?” wrote Atkinson in an email shared by Daily Mail.

There is no pre-requisite requirement from the ICC for knockout matches to be played on fresh pitches. Their Pitch and Outfield Monitoring Process reads as: "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."

The semi-finals of the 2019 Men’s ODI World Cup in England were played on fresh pitches at Old Trafford and Edgbaston. But last year, Men’s T20 World Cup semi-finals were played on used pitches at Adelaide Oval and Sydney Cricket Ground.

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