Claims that the Cricket World Cup is being set up for India to win just won't go away, and a bizarre conspiracy theory has now come to light around Rohit Sharma and the way he tosses the coin. From their 'friendly' schedule to the pitch that was used for their semi-final against New Zealand, the host nation seem to have had a very comfortable run to the final.
But in the eyes of some, officials have gone too far in accomodating India and bowing to their requests. The latest controversy to target India revolves around how high and far Sharma tosses the coin before matches.
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A number of videos have emerged on social media showing the India captain throwing the coin up so high that it inevitably bounces and rolls so far away from the players that the opposition captain doesn't get a chance to see how it landed. It was the same on Wednesday night against New Zealand, with Kiwi captain Kane Williamson taking the word of the match referee that he'd lost the toss - without actually looking at the coin.
— Farid Khan (@_FaridKhan) November 15, 2023
India would have been desperate to win the toss and bat first, particularly considering they'd requested less grass on the wicket and even convinced the ICC to switch to an old pitch that had already been used at the World Cup, rather than playing on a brand new strip as originally planned. Sure enough Sharma won the toss and batted, with India amassing 4-397. New Zealand only made 327 in response and were knocked out of the tournament.
As the conspiracy goes, India and the BCCI (Indian cricket board) are in cahoots with the ICC, who tell the captains that Sharma won the toss no matter which way the coin lands. As the videos highlight on social media, other captains like Pat Cummins toss the coin much lower - meaning it lands in the general vicinity where their counterpart can see it.
Former Pakistan Test bowler Sikandar Bakht even fuelled the claims on Wednesday. "Can I give you a conspiracy theory?" he said on local TV. "At the time of the toss, Rohit Sharma throws the coin distant from the range of any opposition captain. Thus, the opposition captain cannot go and crosscheck about the call."
Sharma has won five tosses and lost five throughout the tournament, which doesn't add much weight to the conspiracy. He has won the last three in a row - including the all-important one against New Zealand. There's no suggestion from this publication that Sharma, the BCCI or ICC are doing anything untoward, but it comes amid a time of great controversy for the host country.
Former Pakistan bowler Sikandar Bakht indicates India captain Rohit Sharma throws the coin far away at the toss so the opposition captain doesn't see it and he gets the decision in his favour 🤦🏽♂️🤦🏽♂️
A new controversy 👀 #CWC23 #INDvsNZpic.twitter.com/zdzd3Zwrc7
— Farid Khan (@_FaridKhan) November 15, 2023
Pitch switched at last minute for India-NZ semi-final
On Wednesday night it emerged that the ICC had bowed to a request from India to switch the pitch for the semi-final at the last minute. The worn pitch had already been used twice so far at the World Cup, and gave India's bowlers a big advantage.
The original plan was to use pitch No.7 at the Wankhede Stadium, but it was changed to No.6 on game day. According to reports, the Gujarat Cricket Association (who are in charge of pitch preparation at Wankhede Stadium) have claimed they were acting under instructions from the BCCI, not the ICC.
ICC pitch consultant Andy Atkinson was quoted in a leaked email as saying: “One must speculate if this will be the first ever ICC CWC 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?”
Australian commentator Gerard Whateley said of the situation: “I think it’s outrageous. This is an international tournament. Prepare the pitches however you like for your home series, every nation has the choice to do that if they want to. But this is an international tournament, it hasn’t quite felt that way. It’s felt like a tournament in India for India and for India to win.
“This is evidently going on. It’s one thing when you’re the host nation of your own Test series for the team to influence the preparation for the pitch. It just shouldn’t be happening at an international tournament. It is just so brazened as to be breathtaking and confirms everything that we know about pitch preparation in India. No matter how much denial there is of it.”
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