This pitch has already seen action in two matches of the tournament. Originally, the semi-final was slated to be played on Pitch 7 at the Wankhede Stadium, a fresh surface untouched in the league stage.
The ICC’s Stance and Local Ground Management
The International Cricket Council (ICC) does not mandate that knockout World Cup matches be played on unused pitches.
The responsibility for selecting and preparing the pitch lies with the local ground authority, in this case, the Mumbai Cricket Association (MCA), with support from ICC’s independent pitch consultant, Andy Atkinson.
This change in pitch allocation deviates from the pre-tournament plan, raising questions about the decision-making process.
Adapting to the Change: India and New Zealand’s Approach
The switch to a used pitch could significantly impact the strategies of both India and New Zealand.
Used pitches often behave differently than fresh ones, potentially offering different levels of bounce, turn, and pace.
This sudden change requires teams to quickly adapt their strategies and could influence the outcome of this crucial match.
The Global Standard: Comparisons with Past Tournaments
This decision contrasts with the 2019 ODI World Cup semi-finals in England, where both matches were played on fresh pitches.
However, the 2020 T20 World Cup semi-finals were played on used pitches, indicating a lack of consistency in pitch selection for crucial matches.
The ICC’s role in ensuring fair play and equal conditions for all teams comes into focus, especially considering the potential for home advantage.
Conclusion: A Test of Adaptability and Fairness
The decision to play the India-New Zealand semi-final on a used pitch at the Wankhede Stadium adds an unexpected twist to the 2023 ODI World Cup.
It tests the adaptability of the teams and raises questions about the consistency and fairness of pitch selection in crucial matches.
As the cricketing world watches, this match will not only be a contest of skill and strategy but also a reflection of the sport’s governance and the importance of maintaining a level playing field.