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News

World Cup final pitch rated 'average' by ICC

Sandy Dharamsala outfield rated "average" for four out of five World Cup games

Shashank Kishore
Shashank Kishore
08-Dec-2023
The Australians take a very close look at the pitch ahead of the World Cup final  •  ICC via Getty Images

The Australians take a very close look at the pitch ahead of the World Cup final  •  ICC via Getty Images

The ICC has given the Ahmedabad pitch used for the 2023 World Cup final between India and Australia an "average" rating. The ICC updated its list of pitch and outfield ratings this week, and surfaces for as many as eight World Cup matches across five Indian venues were rated average overall. This included five games involving hosts India.
The World Cup final on November 19 was played on the same pitch that hosted the India-Pakistan fixture five weeks earlier, on the recommendation of the ICC's pitch consultant Andy Atkinson, and the track received an average rating for both games. The surface at Eden Gardens used for the second semi-final between Australia and South Africa was also rated average. Eden Gardens received the most average ratings - five in all.
The surface for the first semi-final, between India and New Zealand at Mumbai's Wankhede Stadium, was rated "good". The track was in focus after the pitch was changed in the lead-up to the match from a fresh surface to a used track, but fears that it would be slow did not play out with the teams aggregating 724 runs, three centuries across both innings included, with just the lone wicket falling to spin.
The ICC rates pitches, and separately outfields, for all international games as one of six ratings: very good, good, average, below average, poor, unfit.
During the tournament, India head coach Rahul Dravid had expressed his disagreement with two "average" pitch ratings handed out for India's league matches in Chennai (vs Australia) and Ahmedabad (vs Pakistan). At the time, he called for greater diversity in the kinds of surfaces that are considered "good" or "very good".
"If you want to only see 350-run matches and rate only those pitches as good, then I disagree with that," Dravid had said before India's game against New Zealand in Dharamsala on October 22. "You have to see different skills on display as well. If you wanted to only see fours and sixes being hit, then we have T20 for that. Why do we need anything else?
"There are skills on display on 350 wickets also. That's fine on that particular day. But in the first few games when it spins a little bit or something happens that brings the bowlers into the game, and you start rating pitches as average, where does it leave the bowlers? Why are they coming then? Play two T20 matches then. We need to have a better way of deciding what is good or average."

Dharamsala outfield rated "average"

The ICC was largely satisfied with the nature of outfields, except the one in Dharamsala which was rated "average" for four out of the five games it hosted. During the tournament, a number of players had criticised the outfield. The main issue centred around the venue's patchy grass and sandy base, which prevented players from diving freely, posing an injury threat if they did attempt it.
Earlier in the year, an India vs Australia Test match was moved out of Dharamsala at short notice owing to the outfield's condition.
The outfield for the last of Dharamsala's five World Cup games, between Australia and New Zealand on October 28, received a "very good" rating.
The only other venue to receive an "average" outfield rating was the MCA Stadium in Pune, for the India vs Bangladesh fixture on October 19.

Shashank Kishore is a senior sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo