New Delhi [India] : Former Australia captain and cricket Ian Chappell on Saturday played down the controversy around the last-minute pitch change for the World Cup semifinal between hosts India and New Zealand.
The Indian team management had demanded a change of the pitch for the last-four clash with the Black Caps at Mumbai’s Wankhede stadium on Wednesday.
The move drew frowns from a section of the English media and former cricketing greats, who questioned the last-minute sanction of the pitch change by the governing body of world cricket — the International Cricket Council (ICC).
Even before the game could get underway, Daily Mail, a British daily, ran a report claiming that the pitch was changed specifically on the request of the Indian team management.
The Indian team management wanted the semifinal to be played on a slower surface, the daily claimed.
The former Australia skipper refused to read too much into the controversy, saying it was the curators’ job to make pitches and that of the players was to just play on it.
‘I think the same as I’ve always thought; that the curator should make the pitch and the players play on it and it should be up to no one else other than the curator, the local curator,’ Chappell said in an interview with Australia’s Channel 9 Wide World of Sports.
‘I’ve always said about every pitch — don’t worry about World Cups, anything else — the curator makes the pitch and everybody else stays out of it,’ the former Australia skipper added.
Amid the controversy, the ICC issued a statement, clarifying that its independent pitch consultant, Andy Atkinson, was made aware of the change of surface.
‘Changes to planned pitch rotations are common towards the end of an event of this length and has already happened a couple of times. 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,’ ICC stated in an official release, as per ESPNcricinfo.
On what turned out to be a flat deck at the Wankhede, the hosts batted first after winning the toss and posted a humongous 397/4 on the board of their full 50 overs.
Skipper Rohit Sharma led the charge with 47 off 29 balls and Shubman Gill (80 off 66 balls) gave him able company. The two were involved in a 71-run opening stand before the skipper fell to a catch in the deep.
Facing a seemingly improbable target, New Zealand put up a valiant fight with skipper Kane Williamson and Daryl Mitchell coming together for what threatened to be a game-changing partnership.
However, India’s bowling ace in this edition of the World Cup, Mohammed Shami, changed the course of the match in the later overs and finished with remarkable figures of 7/57.
The hosts will face five-time champions Australia in the World Cup final at the Narendra Modi Stadium on Sunday.