The full schedule for the 2023 Cricket World Cup is set to be unveiled in Mumbai on Tuesday, with the semi-final matches assigned to Mumbai and Kolkata, even as concerns over security persist.
Recent reports suggest Pakistan harbors reservations about playing in Mumbai, citing security issues. The Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) has reportedly communicated these concerns to the International Cricket Council (ICC).
If the Indian team advances to the semi-finals, it is anticipated that they would play their match in Mumbai. In the event of an India-Pakistan face-off in the semi-finals, the match is likely to be staged at Kolkata’s Eden Gardens – a venue that Pakistan is reportedly more comfortable with.
Pakistan’s apprehensions stem from historical incidents. In 1991, the late Hindu leader Bal Thackeray’s Shiv Sena party vandalized the pitch at Mumbai’s Wankhede Stadium shortly before Pakistan was due to play there. Following that incident, Pakistan cancelled tours in 1991, 1993, and 1994, due to security fears.
Moreover, during Pakistan’s first Test series in India after 12 years in 1999, about 25 Shiv Sena supporters stormed New Delhi’s Feroze Shah Kotla Stadium, digging up the pitch.
Earlier, Pakistan had also expressed unease about playing in Ahmedabad. This issue, however, was resolved after extensive negotiations between the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) and the PCB, leading to a decision for the arch-rivals to meet at Ahmedabad’s Narendra Modi Stadium on October 15.
Changes in the semi-final venues from the initial allocation to Bengaluru and Chennai were made after a meeting between top BCCI officials and state associations’ representatives on Monday. As a result, the semi-finals are now scheduled to be held at Mumbai’s Wankhede and Kolkata’s Eden Gardens.
Furthermore, the PCB reportedly sought a switch in venues for their matches against Australia and Afghanistan earlier this month. They proposed moving their match against Australia to Chennai and their game against Afghanistan to Bengaluru, primarily due to the spin-friendly nature of the Chennai pitch.
Despite these concerns, the BCCI held its ground and rejected PCB’s requests to the ICC.
The chosen semi-final venues – Wankhede and Eden Gardens – both hold significant World Cup history. The 2011 World Cup final took place at Wankhede, while Eden Gardens hosted the final of the 1987 World Cup. Now, these prestigious venues will take center stage again as they host the semi-final matches of the 2023 World Cup.