According to a report on Daily Mail, International Cricket Council’s (ICC) pitch consultant Andy Atkinson, in agreement with the Board of Control for Cricket India (BCCI) as per norms, had picked an unused surface out of the block of pitches at the Wankhede Stadium, but it has now been switched to a pitch that has already been used twice in the tournament.
The report accuses that the move has been made in order to assist Indian spinners against the Kiwis and that a Whatsapp message about the pitch-switch was sent to Indian and ICC officials, saying that pitch No. 6 will be used instead of originally selected No. 7.
Surface No. 7 was used for the England vs South Africa and India vs Sri Lanka matches in the league stage.
The Daily Mail report also said that Atkinson was told there was an unspecified problem with the original surface selected.
The report also mentions that after the opening match between England and New Zealand in Ahmedabad, the next three matches at the venue were not played on the pre-selected surface, which led to Atkinson writing an email to the ICC. It further alleged that the pitch to be used for the final on November 19 has also been switched to the one that will spin more, and that the BCCI and the Gujarat Cricket Association pointed fingers at each other after Atkinson asked who allowed the change.
Atkinson’s email, as reported by the Daily Mail, read: “As a result of these actions, one must speculate if this will be the first ever (World Cup) 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?”
The report also quotes a response from a BCCI official, saying: “The ICC independent pitch consultant works with the host and venues on their proposed pitch allocations and this process is ongoing throughout an event of this length and nature.”