T20 World Cup: ICC succeeds as India reaches final

Sanjay Manjrekar, Michael Vaughan, and David Lloyd

India included left-arm spinner Axar Patel despite having another experienced left-arm spinner Ravindra Jadeja in the squad for the ICC T20 World Cup 2024. The inclusion of Axar Patel might have raised questions among some people.

Those with subtle questions in their mind have surely found the answer in the second semi-final between India and England, where Axar Patel delivered a game-changing spell, claiming 3 wickets for just 23 runs in his four overs. As expected, he became man of the match in the semi-final.

Indian selector Ajit Agarkar might have been smiling in the background, while captain Rohit Sharma was seen jolly after securing their position in the final. They actually dared including four spinners in the World Cup squad considering the semi-final, as it was particularly mentioned in the World Cup fixture that India will play in Guyana if it reaches the semi-final.

Since Guyana has one of the most spin-friendly wickets of the region, India took the advantage of the prior venue selection and made a proper game plan, with additional spinners in the squad, for the particular wicket.

All these efforts eventually paid off and India reached the World Cup final, defeating England in the second semi-final. It is evident that the International Cricket Council (ICC) prepared the fixture to provide undue advantage to the Indian cricket team.

In this regard, former Indian batter Sanjay Manjrekar told ESPNcricinfo, “Clear advantage…Rohit has to say that. He cannot say it was not an advantage. India would have picked their side based on it.”

He went on saying, “India's problem has been semis and finals and when you know you are playing in Guyana, if you have been wondering why they have got four spinners in their squad, this could be the reason.”

Former English batter Michael Vaughan appeared more vocal on the issue. He told the Club Prairie Fire podcast, “Literally, it is their tournament. They get to play whenever they want. They get to know exactly where their semi-final will be. They play every single game in the morning so people can watch them at night in India on TV.”

He continued, “I get that. I get that money is a big play in the world of cricket. And I get that in bilateral series, but you would think that when you get to a World Cup, the ICC should be a little bit fairer to everybody. It should not be just India just because they bring a few quid in.”

"As I said, bilateral, I completely understand it. But when you get to a World Cup, there cannot be any kind of sympathy or any kind of sway towards one team in the tournament. And this tournament is purely set up for India, simple as that," he added.

Meanwhile, former England cricketer David Lloyd reportedly slammed the ICC for pre-scheduling India vs Pakistan matches in recent ICC tournaments' league stages and found it similar to that of match-fixing.

While talking to the TalkSports, he said on the India vs Pakistan game, “We talk long and hard about fixing in cricket, that is fixed, that is just fixed for a major event. I think that the romance of anything like this if they do get drawn together, not that they are, that is it.”

“If they do, there is a romance to it. There is something for spectators to look forward to. If it happens and then it becomes an event, you know the game itself is an event. You cannot fix it'', the 77-year old added.

Regarding the prior fixation of the semi-final venue for India, he said, “And that is, that is only part of what we fix. We fixed lots of stuff in this particular World Cup, to try to make things and manipulate. It is just wrong.”