India accused of changing pitches, Daily Mail report says
The first semi-final between New Zealand and hosts India at the ongoing World Cup will be played today but the tournament has now been plunged into controversy amidst claims that BCCI has changed the pitch for the semi-final game at Mumbai without ICC permission.
Andy Atkinson is the ICC's independent pitch consultant. The home board and Atkinson agrees on which pitches to use but a Daily Mail report has said that agreement has been ignored at the death end of the tournament.
The first semi-final was set to be played on pitch seven but has been shifted to pitch 6. Daily Mail suggests that Atkinson was told about 'unspecified problem' regarding the pitch 7, one that he does not feel similarly about. Pitch seven was a fresh pitch while pitch six has been used before in the tournament.
Atkinson is understood to have grown frustrated at the lack of a straight answer about preparations for the final, which prompted him to fly to Ahmedabad last Friday, the report read.
The tournament opener between England and New Zealand at Ahmedabad was played on pitch six as was agreed upon but the next three matches there were not played on the scheduled pitches.
Atkinson mailed to his boss writing that changes were made 'without proper notice or forewarning'.
"6-8-6-8-7 was the planned rotation at Wankhede. 6-8-6-8 is what has been used so far," ESPNCricinfo cited a source as saying.
In a leaked email to ICC, Daily Mail quoted Atkinson as saying: 'As a result of these actions, one must speculate if this will be the first ever ICC CWC [cricket World Cup] final to have a pitch which has been specifically chosen and prepared to their stipulation at the request of the team management and/or the hierarchy of the home nation board.'
There is no ICC requirement for playing the knockout matches in fresh pitches.
"Changes to planned pitch rotations are common towards the end of an event of this length, and has already happened a couple of times," an ICC spokesperson was quoted as saying by The Sydney Morning Herald.
"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," the spokeperson's quote further read.