Responding to reports that the Wankhede Stadium pitch was changed to suit the Indian team in their semi-final clash against New Zealand in ICC Cricket World Cup 2023, the International Cricket Council (ICC) on Wednesday said that the independent pitch consultant Andy Atkinson was taken into confidence on the change of track. (Match Blog | Scorecard | Streaming | Preview)
Media reports had suggested that the surface for the last-four encounter in Mumbai was changed from a fresh one to a "used" deck that would help the Indian spinners. But the global governing body said that the decision to change the pitch has nothing uncommon to it.
The ICC said in a statement: "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 added that Atkinson, its independent pitch consultant, knew about the change. "The ICC independent pitch consultant was apprised of the change and has no reason to believe the pitch won't play well," the statement read.
According to 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 mandate that a knockout match be played on fresh wickets.
Australia skipper Pat Cummins too did not read much into the episode. "Yeah, I saw that (the report)... obviously ICC have an independent pitch curator who manages that. So I'm sure they are making sure it's fair for both teams," Cummins said on the eve of Australia's semi-final game against South Africa at Eden Gardens.
"So far this tournament that we've played on, I've not seen any issue,” added Cummins.
In the first semi-final of this tournament, India scored a mammoth 397 after winning the toss and choosing to bat first against New Zealand. Virat Kohli scored a record-breaking 50th ODI century, surpassing Sachin Tendulkar's mark of 49 ODI tons.
The winner of the first semi-final will face either five-time champions Australia or South Africa in the summit clash at Ahmedabad on Sunday.