Cricket World Cup final between India and Australia WILL be played on ICC-recommended pitch after hosts switched surfaces for their semi-final victory over New Zealand – but it still contravenes the plan agreed ahead of the tournament
- Indian authorities switched the pitch for their semi-final win over New Zealand
- They are now set to take on Australia in the final in Ahmedabad on Sunday
- However, that game will be played on the surface recommended by the ICC
Sunday’s World Cup final between India and Australia in Ahmedabad will be played on the surface recommended by ICC pitch consultant Andy Atkinson following this week’s controversy in Mumbai.
Mail Sport revealed that the Indian authorities had switched the pitch for Wednesday’s semi-final win over New Zealand at short notice, enraging Atkinson and leading to fears of another unscheduled change of plan for the final.
Atkinson remains furious that the Indian board claimed there was something wrong with the pitch that had originally been agreed on at Mumbai’s Wankhede Stadium – with no explanation yet offered for the late switch.
But the ICC said on Friday night that the final would be played on pitch No 5 at the Narendra Modi Stadium – in accordance with the conclusion Atkinson reached after he flew into Ahmedabad last week to ascertain why he wasn’t getting any straight answers from the local authorities about preparations for Sunday’s showpiece.
Australia’s players had expressed nervousness about what awaited them as they look to win their sixth one-day World Cup against an Indian side desperate for victory in front of a home crowd that could top 95,000.
The cricket World Cup final between India and Australia in Ahmedabad will be played on the surface recommended by ICC pitch consultant Andy Atkinson after this week’s controversy
The build-up to their semi-final win over New Zealand was overshadowed after it was revealed that India had gone behind the ICC’s backs to ensure the clash took place on a used pitch
‘It’s always expect the unexpected in India,’ said seamer Josh Hazlewood. ‘We’re not surprised by anything here. When we get there, we’ll see the pitch and make a decision on what we do first. Whatever it is, we have to do it well.’
His fellow quick Mitchell Starc said: ‘I guess we’ll find out when we get to Ahmedabad and see if it’s a fresh wicket or an old wicket.’
If the ICC are correct, the wicket will be the freshest of the three options, having been used only once – 37 days before the final for India’s game against Pakistan, which lasted only 73 overs.
Atkinson reported back to his bosses that it was the only suitable surface of the three available, with pitch No 6 used twice already – for England’s games against New Zealand and Australia – and pitch No 7 used as recently as last week, for South Africa’s match against Afghanistan.
Sunday’s final will be played on pitch No 5 at the Narendra Modi Stadium in Ahmedabad
They are set to take on an in-form Australia side who have now won eight games on the trot
Even the choice of pitch No 5, however, is not without a twist, since it contravenes the original pre-agreed plan between Atkinson and the BCCI, which had the final taking place on pitch No 6.
When the Indian authorities unilaterally altered the schedule for Ahmedabad’s next three games, and used pitch No 6 twice, Atkinson flew to the venue himself for an inspection. His conclusion – that No 5 is in the best condition – appears to have been respected.
The Australians – who beat South Africa by three wickets in Kolkata on Thursday – will be up against comfortably the strongest team in the tournament.
India possess its leading run-scorer in Virat Kohli, with 711 at an average of 101, and its leading wicket-taker in Mohammed Shami, with 23 wickets at an average of nine. Victory would be their 11th in a row, confirming them as one of the great white-ball sides of all time.
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