Mumbai: Hours before India and New Zealand lock horns at Mumbai's Wankhede Stadium in the 2023 World Cup semi-final on Wednesday (November 15), several media reports cited sources claiming that the Indian Cricket management asked for a 'slow' pitch. According to a controversial report in the English daily 'The Indian Express', the grass on the pitch was "shaved off" so that the surface could assist Indian spinners.
While the pitches at the ICC events are prepared as per the governing body's request, a report in The Daily Mail by journalist Lawrence Booth claimed that the semi-final will take place on the pitch that has been used twice, purely to assist India's spin-bowling unit. As per the report, the high-voltage fixture was previously supposed to be contested on a fresh pitch, unused for any of the group-stage matches. The report didn't stop at this and went on to claim that a slow pitch is also expected for the final in Ahmedabad at the Narendra Modi Stadium, "if the hosts manage to make it to the finals."
The same report from the Daily Mail claimed that a WhatsApp message had been circulated in a group comprising of over 50 BCCI and ICC officials, reading that the match has been moved to pitch No.6.
The journalist who penned the report, made some serious charges, claiming in his report that the ICC pitch consultant, Andy Atkinson, has allegedly grown "frustrated" due to the inconclusive answers about pitch preparations for the final.
Questions raised over India-Pakistan league stage match in ICC CWC 2023
As per The Daily Mail, the matters took a turn for the worse when the ICC events' manager informed Atkinson that the India-Pakistan fixture took place on pitch No.5, when it was supposed to be played on pitch No.7 as per the schedule.
In an email accessed by the newspaper, Atkinson stated, "As a result of these actions, one must speculate if this will be the first ever ICC CWC [Cricket World Cup] 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 favoritism for either of the sides competing in the match in the usual manner, and unquestionably because it is the usual pitch for the occasion?" the mail further said.
Here's how netizens have reacted to the controversy: