Monday, April 15, 2024

Rohit Sharma ignores pitch row (ASHIS RAY FROM WANKHEDE)

India captain Rohit Sharma described the track at the Wankhede Stadium for the World Cup semifinal against New Zealand as a “good pitch”, thereby ignoring the controversy raised by the UK’s Daily Mail newspaper that the choice of wicket for the match was changed at the last minute to suit India.

All Sharma would say was that the surface was “a little on the slower side”, adding, “whatever we do, we have to do it well”.

It was suggested in the Mail story that a previously used pitch would bring India’s spinners into the fray. Theoretically, a fresh wicket might have been even-handed towards spinners and quicker bowlers alike. As it turned out, it was an easy-paced batting paradise when India batted after winning the toss.

Former England skippers Nasser Hussain and Eoin Morgan commented that a pitch previously used in the tournament could suit the New Zealanders as its character would be less predictable.

However, another ex-England captain Michael Vaughan hit out at the decision to allow a World Cup semifinal to be played on a used pitch, saying it’s “obvious” the International Cricket Council (ICC) wants India in the final.

Pitches for ICC events are prepared under the supervision of the governing body’s consultant, Andy Atkinson, who, reportedly, agrees in advance with the home board which pitch in a square will be used for which game.

The Mail’s report by Lawrence Booth claimed a fresh track hitherto not utilised in the competition was supposed to be the pitch for the match. It went on to say: “Atkinson is understood to have been told there is an unspecified problem with pitch No. 7 (the original choice) — an opinion he is thought not to share.”

The source of the story, it would appear, is either Atkinson or someone close to him.

“Atkinson is understood to have grown frustrated at the lack of a straight answer about preparations for the final (scheduled for Sunday 19 November), which prompted him to fly to Ahmedabad (the venue) last Friday (10 November).”

The Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) neither confirmed nor denied the alleged switch.

A spokesperson for it was quoted as saying: “The independent pitch consultants of ICC work with the local curator on their proposed pitch allocations and the process is going on throughout the course of the event.”

(Senior cricket writer Ashis Ray is a broadcaster and author of the book ‘Cricket World Cup: The Indian Challenge’)

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