India criticised following pitch switch revelation

India roaring into the World Cup final leaves a ‘sour taste’ after they switched the pitch for the New Zealand clash

  • Mail Sport revealed that India went behind the ICC backs ahead of the game
  • They ensured their World Cup semi-final clash took place on a used pitch  
  • Vaughan, Wasim Akram and David ‘Lloyd’ Bumble have all since spoken out

The world of cricket reacted with disbelief after Mail Sport’s revelation that India had gone behind the ICC’s backs to ensure their World Cup semi-final against New Zealand in Mumbai took place on a used pitch.

The pre-tournament agreement with the ICC’s experienced pitch consultant Andy Atkinson was that the game would be played on a fresh surface – only for India to insist on a pitch that had already been used twice.

They ended up beating New Zealand by 71 runs, with Virat Kohli making a world-record 50th one-day international century in front of an ecstatic crowd that included Sachin Tendulkar and David Beckham, and seven wickets for Mohammed Shami.

But the build-up to the game was overshadowed by criticism of India’s role in a process that is supposed to be overseen by the ICC.

‘It is a bit of a sour taste,’ said former England captain Michael Vaughan on Test Match Special. ‘It doesn’t sit with me that a World Cup semi-final is played on a used pitch.

India reached the World Cup final as they beat New Zealand by 71 runs on Wednesday

The build-up to the game was overshadowed after it was revealed that India had gone behind the ICC’s backs to ensure their clash with New Zealand in Mumbai took place on a used pitch

Michael Vaughan has been among to those to speak out saying that it left a ‘sour taste’

‘I don’t think India needed to do anything. They have played the best cricket by a country mile. They shouldn’t have got involved in what the surface should be.’

Vaughan later added: ‘Let’s not beat around the truth: the ICC want India in the final. They probably would’ve beaten New Zealand on any pitch… The rest of the world will be like: “Really? Don’t make it so obvious.”’

Anil Kumble, the respected former India spinner and head coach, told ESPNcricinfo he had ‘no idea’ why the pitch had been changed so late on.

‘It’s very surprising,’ he said. ‘All the broadcast equipment was set up for the [fresh] pitch and now today it seems like they’ve moved to the surface which was used.’

Meanwhile, Pakistan legend Wasim Akram tweeted: ‘This should be the last thing on the Indian cricket team’s mind. This is just unnecessary.’

And on TMS, the former New Zealand wicketkeeper Ian Smith said: ‘New Zealand have often preferred to bowl first, but it was noticeable at the toss that Kane Williamson said they would have batted first on a used pitch. Emphasis on “used”.’

Writing in today’s Mail Sport, David ‘Bumble’ Lloyd went further. ‘Do you know what should have happened?’ he asked. ‘The ICC should have stood up to India and said: “This new pitch is the one we are playing on and if you don’t like it then you can forfeit the game.”’

After the match, the former India captain Sunil Gavaskar told Star Sports viewers the controversy had been cooked up by ‘morons’.

David ‘Lloyd’ Bumble said India should have been asked to ‘forfeit’ if they didn’t like playing on the original pitch

Ex-India captain Sunil Gavaskar said the controversy had been cooked up by ‘morons’

The game’s governing body issued a statement which confirmed our story, but gave no explanation for the unscheduled change.

‘Changes to planned pitch rotations are common towards the end of an event of this length, and has already happened a couple of times,’ it read.

‘This change was made on the recommendation of the venue curator in conjunction with our host. The ICC independent pitch consultant was apprised of the change and has no reason to believe the pitch won’t play well.’

It is understood that pitch rotations were altered four times during the 45 group games, with the ICC saying Atkinson was consulted on each occasion.

But he complained in an email to his ICC bosses that he had been told only three days in advance about a change of surface for England’s game against Australia at Ahmedabad on November 4.

He wrote: ‘It was too late to do anything about it, as there was not sufficient time to prepare the correct pitch that had been slated for use.’

The ICC’s statement also fudged the matter of how and when the change of pitch for Wednesday’s match was communicated to Atkinson, whose job is to supervise preparations in conjunction with the home authorities. As Mail Sport reported on Wednesday, he was unimpressed the move was presented to him as a fait accompli.

The game’s governing body issued a statement which confirmed Mail Sport’s revelation but gave no explanation for the unscheduled change

It remains unclear which surface will be used for Sunday’s final in Ahmedabad

The question of whether the pitch would ‘play well’ was of little relevance to the breach of protocol.

It remains unclear which surface will be used for Sunday’s final in Ahmedabad, where India will play the winners of Thursday’s second semi between Australia and South Africa in Kolkata.

According to the pre-tournament schedule, the game should take place on pitch No 6 at the Narendra Modi Stadium, though only after that was supposed to have been used only once, for England’s tournament opener against New Zealand back on October 5.

But the England-Australia game was switched to the same strip ‘without proper notice or forewarning’, raising the possibility that the final could take place on a surface already used twice.

The other option is pitch No 5, which has been used just once, for India’s game against Pakistan on October 14.

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