Pitch fixing: Did India change pitch for semi-final to help spinners?

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The first semi-final of the ICC World Cup 2023 between India and New Zealand will be played at Mumbai’s Wankhede Stadium. However, prior to this, allegations of tampering with the pitch have been directed at the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI).

Instead of using Pitch No. 7 at Wankhede Stadium, the semi-final will now be played on Pitch No. 6. Earlier, ICC representative Andy Atkinson had emailed the ICC, confirming the World Cup opening match schedule. Still, subsequent changes were made to the schedules of the next three matches without prior notice.

Due to certain incidents during the Cricket World Cup 2023, the International Cricket Council (ICC) has intervened in the event, leading to controversies and actions taken during this tournament. Just yesterday, the BCCI changed the pitch for the semi-final without informing the ICC, a move already employed during the first two matches. India has selected a spinner-friendly pitch to aid their spinners.

The contentious nature of the Cricket World Cup has led to the ICC providing conveniences for its players and teams. It is rumored that important match pitches may be altered by India in the finals as well. The league round of the event has already witnessed three matches, overseen by the Pitch Governing Body under the guidance of ICC Events’ consultant, Andy Atkinson.

According to media reports, the Indian Board is arranging to play the semi-final on Pitch No. 6 instead of Pitch No. 7 at the Wankhede Stadium for the ICC World Cup 2023, overlooking the ICC Code of Conduct. This pitch has been previously used and is advantageous for Indian spinners. Confirmation from over 50 ICC and BCCI officials indicates the relocation of the first semi-final to Pitch No. 6, where India and Sri Lanka played, besides England and South Africa.

Reports suggest that ICC representative Andy Atkinson has informed that an unspecified issue has arisen with Pitch No. 7, leading to the match being moved to Pitch No. 6. This move has raised concerns at the ICC that a similar incident might occur during the final at the Narendra Modi Stadium on Sunday. It could also be a matter to watch for the second semi-final to achieve the desired results.

Due to these concerns, ICC representative Andy Atkinson has expressed disappointment at not receiving a direct response regarding the preparations for the final. Frustrated, he traveled to Ahmedabad last Friday. Previously, only the first match between England and New Zealand was played on Pitch No. 6 as per the schedule, with subsequent matches deviating from the schedule. Andy Atkinson informed the ICC via email that changes were made by the Indian Board without prior notice.

On the other hand, a spokesperson for the Indian Board stated that the ICC’s Independent Pitch Consultant collaborates with hosts and venues, working on approved pitches during events of such magnitude and nature.

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