ESPNcricinfo understands that the semi-final was initially supposed to be played on Pitch 7, the central strip of the Wankhede Stadium pitch block. Field 7 is a new surface that was not used in the league phase of the World Cup.
The change represents a late departure from the field allocation designed before the World Cup. A source told ESPNcricinfo: “6-8-6-8-7 was the planned rotation at Wankhede. 6-8-6-8 is what has been used so far.”
According to the ICC Conditions of Play for the World Cup, the relevant ‘field authority’ is “responsible for the selection and preparation of the pitch” before any given match; in this case, the Mumbai Cricket Association (MCA). The ICC also has an independent field consultant, Andy Atkinson, who works alongside local field staff.
He daily mail reported that Atkinson has been frustrated by changes to previously agreed plans during the World Cup, and that he speculated in a leaked email whether the pitch for the final in Ahmedabad on Sunday “will be the first ICC CWC final to have a field that has been specifically chosen and prepared according to its stipulations at the request of the team management and/or the hierarchy of the board of directors of the country of origin.”
If India were to reach the final in Ahmedabad, they would face either Australia or South Africa. Pat Cummins put his faith in the ICC to oversee the filing process.
“Yes, I saw that [the report]…Obviously, ICC has an independent fielding curator who looks after that, so I’m sure they’re all working to make sure it’s fair for both teams,” he said. “So far, this tournament [on pitches] “In what we’ve played I haven’t seen any problems.”
There is no ICC requirement that knockout matches must be played on new pitches. The only stipulation in their Field and Garden Monitoring Process reads: “Venues assigned the responsibility of hosting a match are expected to present the best possible field and garden conditions for that match.”
The 2019 ODI World Cup semi-finals, in England four years ago, were played on new pitches at Old Trafford and Edgbaston. But last year, both T20 World Cup semi-finals were played on used pitches – one at the Adelaide Oval and the other at the Sydney Cricket Ground.
Both Indian and New Zealand players inspected the pitch at Wankhede closely on Tuesday night before it was covered by the pitching staff at the start of India’s training session under the floodlights.