Indian cricket legend Sunil Gavaskar slammed “idiots” for criticizing the change of pitch for the World Cup semi-final, saying it should not discredit India’s victory at all.
The host nation beat New Zealand by 70 runs to book their place in the final and move a step closer to winning their third ODI World Cup title.
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Virat Kohli hits his 50th ODI century to overtake Sachin Tendulkar as the player with the most hundreds in the format.
Controversy arose before the match when it was revealed that there would be a semi-final it was played on a used pitch at the Wankhede Stadium in Mumbai, having already played two matches earlier in the tournament in a late innings.
The ICC pitch consultant did not like the change. There were also reports that Indian officials had asked the BCCI curators to shave off most of the grass on the playing surface.
Australian sports broadcaster Gerard Whateley called the pitch change request “outrageous”.
Ironically, paceman Mohammed Shami did most of the damage for India in the semi-final, finishing with figures of 7/57 – becoming the first man to take three five-wicket hauls in the same World Cup.
The seven-wicket haul took Shami to the top of the wicket-taking charts with 23, one ahead of Adam Zampa on 22nd.
After all the talk of a slow pitch, it was a batting friendly surface as India piled up 397 runs and New Zealand still managed to reply with 327.
Speaking to Star Sports afterwards, Gavaskar said, “It was such a good pitch to bat on. We scored almost 730 goals here.
“All those morons who were talking about changing the pitch and that it would do the Indian bowlers a favour, I hope they will shut up.”
“Stop taking pictures in India just because it helps you get noticed. Nonsense.
“Even though the field changed, it was there before the faceoff for both teams. It has not changed in the middle part. It didn’t change after throwing.
“The field was the same for both teams. You are a good enough team, you play on this field and you win. And India did. So stop talking about the pitch.
“There is already talk of a pitch in Ahmedabad (venue of the final). The second semi-final hasn’t even happened yet, you’re talking about changing the ground in Ahmedabad. Nonsense.”
Gavaskar’s scathing remarks come as Australia also prepare for their semi-final against South Africa at the same ground in Kolkata that hosted England’s match against Pakistan five days ago.
Former Australian player and coach Darren Lehmann wrote on social media: “A fresh pitch for ICC events is a must. Not even a question, it should just happen.” ️
Australian captain Pat Cummins expects the pitch to play slowly and rotate a lot.
“It looks like it’s probably going to spin a bit more than some of the other wickets – which is the same for both teams,” Cummins said.
“It might be a slightly different tempo game, but I think it’s still pretty even.”
Cricket.com.au players from both Australia and South Africa looked surprised as they surveyed the pitch on Tuesday.
Mitchell Starc is expected to replace Sean Abbott after he was rested against Bangladesh, while Australia will have to decide whether Marnus Labuschagne or Marcus Stoinis will make way for the returning Glenn Maxwell.
Watch the World Cup semi-final between Australia and South Africa on Kayo Sports from 7.30pm AEDT on Thursday.
Hindi commentary for the three remaining World Cup finals will be available on Fox Cricket Plus.
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