Cricket fans and commentators have been left divided over the value of a marathon innings from Ash Chandrasinghe in which the Victorian opener batted through the entire first day of the Sheffield Shield final. Chandrasinghe finished 46 not out off a whopping 266 balls as Victoria went to stumps at 8-194 against Western Australia.
The young opener faced 14 more balls on Friday and didn't add to his score as Victoria were bowled out for 195. Chandrasinghe played an incredibly patient and stoic innings as wickets tumbled around him, refusing to give away his wicket cheaply like so many of his teammates did. But fans and commentators have been left to debate the wisdom of his go-slow approach given Victoria will likely need a win to claim the final, while Western Australia only need a draw.
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Many praised Chandrasinghe for digging in and providing some stability to the Vic innings, but many more criticised his lack of ability to rotate the strike and get the scoreboard ticking over. It brought back memories of Peter Handscomb's innings in the third Test against India earlier this month in which he made 19 off 98 balls.
Aussie great Matthew Hayden was critical of Handscomb's approach and described it as "almost un-Australian". Hayden said: “He was very, very defensive with his mindset. His strike rate of under 20 means that you are not going anywhere, and the scoreboard is not going anywhere, and that’s a product of some really tough batting conditions … he was sort of like a sitting duck in many ways.
“It’s almost un-Australian. I don’t want anyone out there to think that I’m overly criticising Pete, I’m not. It’s just not quite attacking enough. It’s such a tricky balance.”
Handscomb, who is captaining Victoria in the Shield final, was among those to praise Chandrasinghe on Thursday. "To do what he did in challenging conditions and not go outside his bubble was very, very impressive. For him not to get flustered and play a big shot is awesome.
"The wicket has been tough to score on. For us to drag it out and get almost 200 today, I think can still put us in a position if we bowl well over the next few days to really challenge this game."
Amazing in this short-form circuit era that a player like Ash Chandrasinghe has been able to rise to play the biggest game on the domestic calendar. He is such a curiosity.
— Daniel Cherny (@DanielCherny) March 23, 2023
Five days is a lot of cricket and Ashley Chandrasinghe’s grit and determination and strong understanding of his own game keep @VicStateCricket afloat. He’ll bat for a week if you let him. Could be a defining knock in the #SheffieldShield final.
— Nick Creely (@NCreely) March 23, 2023
Chandrasinghe showing them all how to bat here. He's the only one valuing his wicket #ShieldFinal
— Matt (@Mattys123) March 23, 2023
But many others didn't see it that way. Journalist Brett Graham tweeted: "I honestly think Chandrasinghe’s innings has cost Victoria any chance in this final - pitch isn’t a minefield and he’s batted all day for 46. Just looks a very limited player. Admire his tenacity and application but just doesn’t hurt you as a bowler."
Hard to argue. There had to be more opportunities to score than he took advantage of.
— Martin Gibson (@murdriggs) March 23, 2023
Selfish batting. They need to win, not draw.
— Ricky Palmer (@Rick_D_P) March 23, 2023
That's painfully slow
— William Polak 🌐 (@willpolak) March 23, 2023
Just keeps the opposition in the game. Horrible cricket
— Kevin Hockey (@klh64) March 23, 2023
How was that incredible… you need to win the game & not defend it. Was boring as the proverbial to watch & just played into WA’s hands. #SheffieldShield
— Simon Harrison (@simonharrison5) March 23, 2023
That was absolutely pathetic. Surely it's not a directive to bat like that.
— J (@joe123abc123123) March 23, 2023
There is that but all quite pointless really - he needs to be more positive now but sense he bats not to get out first
— Brett Graham (@worldofBG) March 23, 2023
Chandrasinghe 37* off 213.
— Lewis Daisley (@lewis_daisley) March 23, 2023
Western Australia likely only need draw in Sheffield Shield final
Western Australia are chasing an unprecedented 'six-peat' in which they are trying to win consecutive Shield, one-day cup and Big Bash titles two years running. If the Shield final ends in a draw, the bonus points system will be used.
Teams score 0.01 of a bonus point for every run over 200 they score during the first 100 overs of their first innings. And 0.1 of a bonus point is earned for every wicket the bowling side claims during the same period.
WA wrapped up the Victorian innings quickly on the second day's play after several opportunities went begging on Thursday. "We probably would have liked to have batted tomorrow," Lance Morris, who took 2-52, said at stumps on the first day.
"Overall, we've had a pretty good day. When we weren't taking wickets, the scoreboard wasn't really moving. If we can bowl them out for about 200, we'll be pretty happy with that result ... I think 250, 300 would probably be a pretty good score (on that pitch)."
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