Victoria 8 for 194 (Chandrasinghe 46*, Short 36, Hardie 2-29, Paris 2-34) against Western Australia
Dogged Victoria opener Ashley Chandrasinghe defied Western Australia's disciplined attack and scorn from the WACA faithful to bat through the opening day of the Sheffield Shield final.
It wasn't pretty, but Chandrasinghe's unbeaten 46 off 266 balls held Victoria's first innings together as they reached stumps at 8 for 194.
The 21-year-old Chandrasinghe was set to be dropped from the line-up having scored just 25 runs in his last five innings with returning skipper Peter Handscomb needing to be squeezed into the line-up.
But he was elevated from his customary No.3 position after replacing veteran opener Travis Dean, who suffered an injury setback during training on Wednesday.
"Ash was out and then back in. Credit to him...to be able to put that behind him and bat all day," Handscomb said. "To be able to carry his bat through the day in challenging conditions...was very impressive."
Chandrasinghe lived up to his gritty reputation with unwavering concentration in warm conditions to thwart a typically dangerous WA attack led by speedster Lance Morris, who finished with 2 for 52 from 18 overs in his return from Australia's Test tour of India.
Chandrasinghe stonewalled throughout, most notably during the second session when he scored just five runs off 74 balls and received mocking cheers from a healthy smattering of fans in the terraces.
But he's given Victoria a chance of mustering a competitive first innings total as they aim for revenge after falling short in last year's drawn final against WA.
Victoria, however, haven't yet received a bonus point which is awarded for every run over 200 in the first 100 overs. WA have 0.8 bonus points having taken eight wickets.
"I don't think we worry about bonus points at this stage. We just go out there and focus on just trying to get ourselves into as best position as possible to win this game," Handscomb said.
There was much intrigue over the surface, which has been particularly spicy throughout the season but was expected to be flatter for the five-day final much like last year's decider.
There was a notable green tinge down the wicket providing movement for the quicks although it was hardly a minefield with Victoria left to rue several lacklustre dismissals.
Victoria had stormed into the final on the back of a five-match win streak capped by a comprehensive seven-wicket victory over WA at the WACA last week. After being sent in, their batters braced for a more formidable challenge against a WA attack strengthened by the inclusions of frontline quicks Morris, Joel Paris and Matthew Kelly.
Having scored three centuries in four Shield finals, former Test opener Marcus Harris loomed as the key wicket against his former team. Just days after he got married, Harris was in fluent touch to repel new ball quicks Kelly and Paris who seemed to bowl within himself after heading into the match under a fitness cloud.
After entering the attack in the eighth over, Morris shortly after celebrated a triumphant return when he had Harris caught at first slip on 15 only to have overstepped.
It loomed as a crucial moment with Harris then cracking the next ball to the point boundary before Morris redeemed himself by immediately trapping the left-handed opener lbw to cap a whirlwind passage of play. Morris continued his onslaught to trouble Chandrasinghe with one fiery bouncer flying to the boundary for byes.
Emerging 20-year-old batter Campbell Kellaway was promoted to No.3 amid a reshuffled batting order but fell before lunch to allrounder Aaron Hardie, who bowled a probing spell having been managed with his bowling loads late in the season.
After dealing with rampaging spinning wickets in India, Handscomb appeared to struggle adjusting to the pace-friendly WACA surface and made a sluggish 11 off 33 before he fell to Kelly early in the second session.
As Chandrasinghe went right into his shell, in-form Matthew Short made batting look far easier as he put away rare loose deliveries to speed past his sedate batting partner. But Short was caught at second slip on 36 after edging a good length delivery from the hard-working Paris, who appeared to move better as the day wore on.
Victoria slumped before a rearguard half-century partnership between Chandrasinghe and Mitchell Perry helped push them close to 200 by the end of the day's play.
Victoria expectedly selected Test spinner Todd Murphy over veteran left-armer Jon Holland, who bowled well against WA last week. Murphy has never bowled on the WACA, a ground known for being unforgiving for spinners. But he'll be encouraged by counterpart Corey Rocchiccioli, who conjured bounce and spin to finish with 1 for 14 from 14 overs.