A startling controversy has erupted right before the 2023 World Cup semi-final between India and New Zealand in Mumbai with India being accused of allegedly swapping the pitch to suit their needs.

To bet on the World Cup with our Match Centre Partners bet365 head here.

The much-anticipated semi-final between India and New Zealand is scheduled to start at 2pm local time on November 15 at the Wankhede Stadium in Mumbai. Hours before the game, there were allegations that the pitch on which the match was supposed to be originally played had been changed.

According to the Daily Mail, the first semi-final was scheduled to be played on pitch number seven at the Wankhede Stadium, but will now be played on pitch number six. Wisden.com can confirm pitch six is being used for the semi-final.

ICC’s independent pitch consultant Andy Atkinson is tasked with supervising the preparation and selection of pitches for each game in ICC tournaments. According to Daily Mail, the agreement for the first semi-final, which was for pitch seven, a previously unused pitch in the World Cup, has been ignored.

Instead, pitch six, on which two games – India-Sri Lanka and England-South Africa – have been played in the World Cup so far, will now be used. It is being said that the change would assist India’s strong spin attack.

Atkinson was informed that there is an unspecified problem with pitch seven, giving rise to the speculations of India trying to micromanage pitches to favour their strengths.

[breakout id=”0″][/breakout]

Wisden.com understands that pitches are prepared working together with the host board, and that it can be changed based on their assessment of it. Only if it’s a last-minute change is it an issue. However, it’s usually known in advance which pitch the match would be played on, since a lot of logistical factors, including broadcasting angles, depend on it.

The ICC is expected to release a statement on it sometime today.

The Daily Mail reported similar concerns for the final, scheduled to be played at the Narendra Modi Stadium in Ahmedabad on November 19. Only one of the four matches that have been played in Ahmedabad so far have been on pre-agreed pitches: the other three have deviated from the schedule at the venue without prior permission from the ICC.

According to the report, BCCI and Gujarat Cricket Association (GCA), meanwhile, have shifted responsibility on each other, with the former claiming that it was the GCA that authorised the changes and GCA claiming that they had been acting under the instructions of BCCI.

In an email published by the Daily Mail, Atkinson has raised concerns over the neutrality of the pitches: “As a result of these actions, one must speculate if this will be the first ever ICC CWC 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.

“Or will it be selected or prepared without favouritism for either of the sides competing in the match in the usual manner, and unquestionably because it is the usual pitch for the occasion?”

It should be noted that the two games that have been played on pitch number six at the Wankhede Stadium in this World Cup came on October 21 and November 2, that is, nearly two weeks back.

India won the toss and opted to bat first.