- India have been accused of changing the pitch at the last minute in Mumbai
- Their captain, Rohit Sharma, has played down the significance of the switch
- He was speaking after winning the toss and choosing to bat first in the semi-final
India captain Rohit Sharma has played down accusations that the hosts switched the pitch for their World Cup semi-final against New Zealand at the last minute to aid their spinners.
Mail Sport revealed on Tuesday that today’s clash would be played on a pitch that had already been used twice in the tournament, despite a previous agreement with the ICC that the game would be played on a fresh one.
It has been suggested that this could bring India’s world-class spinners Ravindra Jadeja and Kuldeep Yadav into play more at the Wankhede Stadium in Mumbai.
However, after winning the toss and electing to bat first, Sharma insisted that it would be a ‘good pitch’ for both sides.
‘It looks a good pitch, a little on the slower side but whatever we do, we have to do it well,’ he told Sky Sports pundit and former India head coach Ravi Shastri at the toss.
Rohit Sharma has played down the significance of Wednesday’s semi-final being played on a used pitch
Today’s semi-final is being played on a pitch that has already been used twice in the tournament
Sharma was speaking after winning the toss and electing to bat first in Mumbai
‘We have to perform on the day and control the controllables.’
His opposite number, Kane Williamson, confirmed that the match was going to be played on a used pitch and that he would have preferred to bat first, but refused to offer up any excuses ahead of the last-four match.
‘We would’ve had a bat first as well. It’s obviously a used surface but we’ll try to make use of it with the ball first up and hopefully there’s some dew later,’ he said.
New Zealand have a world-class spinner of their own in Mitchell Santner who has taken 16 wickets throughout the World Cup group stages.
Former England captains Eoin Morgan and Nasser Hussain believe that playing on a used pitch could actually bring the Kiwis into the game more due to the conditions being less predictable than if they were playing on a fresh strip.
New Zealand skipper Kane Williamson confirmed the match was being played on a used pitch but refused to offer any excuses
However, another ex-England skipper Michael Vaughan appeared to view things differently as he tweeted a picture of a field with bare patches all over the wicket alongside the caption ‘The World Cup semi final pitch all ready to go at the Wankhede .. Should be a cracker’ just moments before the game got underway.
India enter the contest as clear favourites after winning all nine of their group games while rarely being challenged by their opponents.
New Zealand had a far less straightforward run to the semi-finals, losing four of their nine matches, but they did beat India at the same stage of the competition four years ago and will be hoping to repeat that feat today.
Both teams named unchanged sides from their final group games, with India resisting the temptation to play an extra spinner in Ravichandran Ashwin.