Ash Chandrasinghe innings divides cricket world in Sheffield Shield final

The Victorian opener batted the entire opening day against Western Australia for just 46 runs.

Ash Chandrasinghe, pictured here batting for Victoria in the Sheffield Shield final against Western Australia.
Ash Chandrasinghe batted the entire day for Victoria in the Sheffield Shield final against Western Australia. Image: Cricket Network/Getty

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.

Todd Murphy and Ash Chandrasinghe, pictured here after day one of the Sheffield Shield final between Victoria and Western Australia.
Todd Murphy and Ash Chandrasinghe leave the field after day one of the Sheffield Shield final between Victoria and Western Australia. (Photo by Paul Kane/Getty Images) (Getty Images)

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."

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."

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)."

with AAP

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