IPL 2012 April 13, 2012

Late Wankhede pitch change cost Rajasthan - Goswami

Nagraj Gollapudi and Tariq Engineer

Sreevats Goswami, the wicketkeeper who plays for Rajasthan Royals, has claimed that the pitch for their match on Wednesday against Mumbai Indians at the Wankhede Stadium was switched at the last minute without their knowledge, upsetting their plans for the match and resulting in their defeat. No formal complaint is known to have been lodged, however, and IPL officials say the pitch is handled by the curator and not the franchises.

Rahul Dravid had decided to field first after winning the toss, but that's because he thought another surface was to be used, Sreevats told reporters on Thursday. "We expected some turn but it turned out to be a different wicket. They were rolling another track when we were practising… We got to know that they had changed the wicket later on, without informing us."

Kieron Pollard blasted 64 from 33 balls to help Mumbai Indians post 197. Royals were then bowled out for 170, resulting in their first loss of the season.

A report in the Indian Express said Mumbai Indians asked curator Sudhir Naik to prepare a different pitch for the match. However, IPL chief executive Sundar Raman told ESPNcricinfo in an email that "no franchise has a say on the wickets. It is the decision of the curator".

Another BCCI official explained that the curator prepares three tracks for every game and that only he has the right to choose which pitch will be used. "Rajasthan had come to practice a couple of hours before the toss. So they already knew which pitch they were playing on," the official said. "For them to now say that 'we picked the team based on the pitched we were told we would play on' is ridiculous."

According to a franchise official, the IPL made it clear at the start of the season that only the curator and the relevant state association has a say in the preparation and use of the pitches. Franchises will have no right to influence the nature and preparation of the playing surfaces.

Last season, the then Royals captain Shane Warne was fined US$50,000 by the BCCI for a public spat with the then Rajasthan Cricket Association (RCA) secretary Sanjay Dixit over the changing of pitches in Jaipur during the IPL. At the time, the BCCI said in a statement that "neither of the playing teams has a choice of the wicket on which to play the game. It is the curator, in consultation with the [pitch] committee chairman, who prepares the wickets."

Subsequently, Ray Jennings, the Royal Challengers Bangalore coach, said that the home teams should be able to prepare pitches to their liking but there should be limits to how far they can go.