The Indian cricket team is in a bubble of their own. They turn up on the cricket field, score runs with the bat, take wickets with the new and old ball, dominate the opposition in almost every department and forget about it the next day.
In the dressing room, they are like a big fat family. What’s happening outside, doesn’t pave the walls of their hotel rooms. India opener Shubman Gill’s comment about the pitch controversy for the World Cup semi-final match at the Wankhede Stadium in Mumbai is the biggest proof of that.
“Mujhe toh abhi pata laga pitch ke upar koi controversy hui thhi. Aapne hi bataya abhi. Kya controversy hui thi? (I just got to know from you that there was some controversy over the pitch. What was the controversy?”) asked Gill as collective laughter roamed around the room.
Watch Video: Shubman Gill leaves everyone in splits when asked about Wankhede pitch controversy
The question was quite legit. There was a lot of talk around India trying to gain an undue advantage by changing the pitch for the semi-final at the last minute and deliberately preparing a “slow pitch” to assist their spinners. ICC had to come out with an official statement to clarify the matter as it was spiralling into something big.
“Changes to planned pitch rotations are common towards the end of an event of this length and has already happened a couple of times. This change was made on the recommendation of the venue curator in conjunction with our host.
Legendary Indian cricketer Sunil Gavaskar hit back with a strong statement to quash the reports.
The ICC independent pitch consultant was apprised of the change and has no reason to believe the pitch won’t play well,” it read.
There was, however, no effect on the way India played; as Gill said, they weren’t even aware of something like this. India won comprehensively against a plucky New Zealand by 70 runs and stormed into the final.
Gill made 80 not out from 66 balls in India’s humongous total of 397 for four, in reply to which New Zealand were bowled out for 327 in 48.5 overs, with Mohammed Shami returning a sensational 7/57 to become the leading run-scorer in the tournament.
The spotlight, though, was entirely on Virat Kohli with the modern-day batting great nothing up a world record 50th ODI century to surpass India batting legend Sachin Tendulkar in the all-important semifinal. “I would have got my hundred had I not suffered the cramps.
The total which we were trying to get to, irrespective of me getting a hundred or not, we were able to get there which we had in fact hoped for around the 25th or the 30th over,” Gill told the media after the match.
“We made that many so it does not matter if I got a hundred or not,” added Gill, who retired midway through the Indian innings when he was on 79 not out and walked back on the field to bat again only in the final over.