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ICC Cricket World Cup 2023: From Angelo Mathews To Pitch-Gate - Most Controversial Moments Of The Tournament

The ICC Cricket World Cup 2023 came and left, with Australia in tow as champions for a record-extending sixth time. Capping an exciting tournament, Australia beat hosts India in the final, but plenty occurred in the build up to the trophy bout that got the fans going. Here, we look at the World Cup's most controversial moments

Angelo Mathews (c) talks to the umpires during Sri Lankas tie against Bangladesh
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Much to the dismay of the 130,000-strong crowd inside the Narendra Modi Stadium in Ahmedabad, India returned from the ICC Cricket World Cup 2023 final with silver medals hung around their dejected necks. Unbeaten across the league stage and the semi-final, the Men in Blue lost to record-champions Australia in the final, presenting the title of six-time ODI World Cup victor to an adversary who they just couldn't conquer. 

Plenty occurred in the build-up to the final that left cricket fans amazed and amused, and even angry at the events unfolding right in front of their eyes. Focusing on the latter, here are the five most controversial moments of the 2023 ODI World Cup. 

Angelo Mathews Times Out 

Sri Lankan batter Angelo Mathews was livid in the post-match presser after his team, Sri Lanka, lost to Bangladesh controversially and, in doing so, threw away whatever little chance they had had of qualifying for the semi-final. "If they want to play cricket like that, stoop to that level, it is something wrong drastically. If I got late, past my two minutes and the law says I have to get ready in two minutes, I still had five more seconds to go," Mathews said. 

The reason for Mathews' rage was simple: failing to appear on the field within the given time limit, the Sri Lakan batter was declared out without facing a single delivery after Bangladesh appealed for the same. It was a scenario unique to the arena of international cricket, plunging even the sport's most ardent supporters deep into the rulebooks to find out a precedent for the same. 

Hasan Raza Claims Foul Play

India's sensational start to the ICC Cricket World Cup 2023 campaign was bound to draw detractors. They found one quickly in former Pakistan pro Hasan Raza, who, in his current role as a presenter, claimed that something afoul was at play for India to be exerting this level of control over their opponents. 

“The way Siraj and Shami were swinging the ball, it seemed like the ICC or the BCCI were giving them different and suspicious balls in the second innings. It seemed like the ball started doing things. An inspection is required to be done on the ball. There might be an additional layer of coating for a better swing,” Raza said on local news channel ABN News.

Raza comments not only drew the ire of the Indian camp and faithful, but also those from his same parishes, including, but not limited to, the legendary Wasim Akram. 

“I have been reading about it for the last couple of days. I want to have the same thing these guys are having, sounds like fun because their mind is not there. You will embarrass yourself and you will get us humiliated as well in front of the whole world,” he said on A Sports.

DRS Draws Attention

Technology may have seeped into sports but any who thought that it would deliver decisions with unmatched accuracy are in for a rude awakening. A sample of that was made available to fans watching Australia's game against South Africa, during which Marcus Stoinis seemingly gave away his wicket for a catch behind the wicket to Kagiso Rabada. Only, when technology inevitably intervened was not immediately conclusive; still images showed Stoinis' bottom hand away from the bat when the ball hit him and cradled into the arms of Quinton de Kock. 

Not completely satisfied with the outcome, the Australia coach Andrew McDonald claimed that he and his team would be seeking clarity from ICC on the matter: "You have got to accept the umpire's decision in these moments. I'm sure there will be some sort of explanation coming from the ICC around the dismissal."

DRS came into hot water later in the tournament again when South Africa's Rassie van der Dussen was given out for an LBW against Pakistan, only for the review to reflect the ball missing the stumphs - which, as it happens, was later declared as a technical error by ICC.

Wankhede Pitch-gate

Hours before India played New Zealand in the ICC Cricket World Cup 2023 semi-final, reports claiming that the Board of Control for Cricket in India had twisted the International Cricket Council's hand into switching the pitch for the match to an already used track to enhance India's spin capabilities. Naturally, the news spread like wildfire, forcing players, experts, and organisers to weigh in and ensure the fans that that wasn't the case. 

"All the morons who were talking about the pitch change. Just stop. Stop taking potshots at Indian cricket. People have said a lot of things to attract eyeballs or whatever. It is all nonsense. The pitch was there and even if it was changed, it was there before the toss for both the teams," said Indian cricketing great Sunil Gavaskar.

"Stop talking about pitches. Already they are talking about Ahmedabad and the second semifinal hasn't even taken place. They are talking about the pitch being changed in Ahmedabad. Nonsense."

Wide Off The Mark 

“No, no. There was no such plan. It was a normal plan. No bowler had the intention to bowl a wide ball. We tried to play a proper game. It was not intentional,” told Bangladesh captain Najmul Hossain Shanto in a press conference, mere days after his teammate, Nasum Ahmed, had attracted controversy by bowling what many considered an international wide to prevent Virat Kohli from reaching a century. 

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Kohli was batting on 97 with India two runs away from victory when Ahmed's ball skirted the leg side and nestled into the arms of his wicket-keeper. Stunningly, umpire Richard Kettleborough refused to give a wide call, leaving Kohli with the chance to complete his ton, which he duly did on the next delivery. 

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