Cricket World Cup 2023: India-New Zealand semi-final pitch switched causes questions

Cricket World Cup 2023

This article was last updated on November 16, 2023

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The pitch was previously used for England’s match against South Africa and India’s win over Sri Lanka

India and New Zealand’s World Cup semi-final will be played on a used pitch after a change by local officials.

Wednesday’s match at Wankhede Stadium in Mumbai was due to be played on a new surface but has been moved to one previously used twice.

Pitches are selected and prepared by the local groundstaff and authority with oversight from the International Cricket Council’s pitch consultant.

“It is a bit of a sour taste,” said former England captain Michael Vaughan.

“It doesn’t sit with me that a World Cup semi-final is played on a used pitch.”

No regulations have been broken but it appears the ICC pitch consultant was only informed after the change had been made.

“Changes to planned pitch rotations are common towards the end of an event of this length, and has already happened a couple of times,” said an ICC spokesperson.

“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.”

India won the toss and decided to bat first against New Zealand.

“I don’t think India needed to do anything,” added Vaughan on Test Match Special.

“They have played the best cricket by a country mile. They shouldn’t have got involved in what the surface should be.

“We should be talking about cricket but rather than these two incredible teams we are talking about the pitch.”

The regulations allow for pitches to be changed at short notice but say hosts should “present the best possible pitch and outfield conditions for that match”.

Used pitches were employed for the T20 semi-finals last year, but there were fresh surfaces for the same stage of the previous 50-over World Cup in 2019.

Used pitches are often slower, more difficult to score and favour spinners.

India have two world-class spinners in Ravindra Jadeja and Kuldeep Yadav, who are in the starting side against New Zealand.

However, New Zealand’s left-arm spinner Mitchell Santner has taken 16 wickets in the World Cup – as many as Jadeja and two more than Kuldeep.

India reached the semi-finals by winning all nine of their group games. New Zealand, who beat India in the 2019 semi-final, were the last to qualify in fourth.

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