BCCI clarifies over India-New Zealand semifinal being played on used pitch

by IANS |

Mumbai, Nov 15 (IANS) The Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) has issued a clarification over the India-New Zealand semi-final at the Wankhede Stadium being played on a used pitch, saying the ICC’s independent pitch consultant is working with the venues for the tournament.

“The ICC independent pitch consultant works with the host and venues on their proposed pitch allocations and this process is ongoing throughout an event of this length and nature,” said the BCCI spokesperson to Daily Mail.

It comes after reports from Daily Mail and ESPNCricinfo said 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 ESPNCricinfo report.

The ICC's Playing Conditions for the World Cup state that 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).

Daily Mail reported that Andy Atkinson, ICC’s independent pitch consultant, 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 on 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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