In a dramatic turn of events, it is being learned that the first semi-final of the ICC Men’s Cricket World Cup 2023 between India and New Zealand will be played on a used pitch. What is interesting to note that while the initial plan was to play the fixture on a fresh surface, the match has been switched to a used surfaced on which two matches have already been played.
As per several media reports including the one carried by ESPNCricinfo, the match was initially suppsoed to be played on Pitch 7, which happens to be the central strip of the Wankhede Stadium in Mumbai. In addition, this was the strip which hasn’t been used it. However, a decision was made to shift the game to Pitch 6 which is off-centre and one on which the South Africa-England fixture on October 21 and India-Sri Lanka match on November 2 was played.
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While there was some controversy with some a few foreign media reports accusing BCCI of changing the pitch without ICC’s consultaion, as per the Playing Conditions for the World Cup, it is up to the ground authority to select and prepare the pitch which in this case happens to be the Mumbai Cricket Association (MCA). Meanwhile, ICC’s Andy Atkinson, an independant pitch consultant, also works with the ground staff of the designated state association. All these protocols were followed even this time around.
Meanwhile, it is also significant to note that nowhere does the ICC mandate that a semifinal cannot be played on a used surface. As far as the fixture is concerned, India have won the toss and elected to bat first on a wicket where teams batting first have won more matches in this tournament with seam bowlers getting a lot of assistance under the floodlights. New Zealand captain Kane Williamson also said that he would have elected to bat first, had he won the toss.
Both teams are unchanged from their last league match in the tournament.