Harry Brook’s fastest Hundred century in vain as Welsh Fire keep hopes burning

Lucille Clifton

Harry Brook’s fastest Hundred century in vain as Welsh Fire keep hopes burning

Welsh Fire 159 for 2 (Eskinazi 58, Bairstow 44, Clarke 42*) beat Northern Superchargers 158 for 7 (Brook 105*) by eight wickets

Harry Brook smashed the fastest Hundred century but it proved in vain as Welsh Fire kept alive their hopes of making Saturday’s eliminator with an eight-wicket win over Northern Superchargers at Headingley.

Brook reached his ton off 41 balls while crashing a scintillating 105 not out off 42 but found little support as the Superchargers posted 158 for 7. Stephen Eskinazi’s fifty set Fire on their way, before Jonny Bairstow hit 44 and Joe Clarke 42 to lift the visitors to victory.

Fire will reach the eliminator if Manchester Originals beat Southern Brave on Wednesday. Superchargers were eliminated with defeat, while the result also ended Trent Rockets and London Spirit’s hopes of finishing in the top three.

Brook played a remarkable lone hand to lead a Superchargers recovery. Matthew Short, Tom Banton and Adam Lyth all departed inside the first 20 balls to leave the Superchargers reeling at 10 for 3, having won the toss.

Brook began patiently alongside Adam Hose, but exploded into life after Hose fell to Matt Henry after 33 balls.

He produced an audacious ramp over third for six from a searing Lockie Ferguson bouncer and hit Roelof van der Merwe down the ground for another thumping maximum.

Brook was running out of partners as Adil Rashid, promoted to No. 6, fell to the left-arm spinner and David Wiese was run out by Tom Abell to leave the total at 92 for 7. But Brook marched on undeterred, reaching 50 from 24 balls, and hit the accelerator by smashing 19 from Luke Wells’ five-ball set.

The right-hander combined outrageous power with pure timing, hammering Ferguson down the ground for a six which landed on the Sky Sports commentary pod.

With 10 balls of the innings remaining Brook was on 76 but he surged to his century with two more sixes and four fours as 30 came from those final 10 deliveries, becoming the third man to hit a Hundred century after Will Smeed and Will Jacks.

Momentum was with the hosts but Eskinazi soon set about changing that. The right-hander hit two sixes from Reece Topley’s second set, before being given a life as Topley and Matthew Potts left a high catch to each other.

Eskinazi made the most of his reprieve, crashing his way to 50 from just 19 balls, including three sixes, with Fire well placed on 66 without loss after 40 balls.

The introduction of Rashid applied the brakes – especially to Bairstow, who had just eight from his first 18 balls. Rashid then made the key breakthrough, bowling Eskinazi for 58 with a googly from the 51st ball, with Fire needing 82 more to win.

Bairstow began to find his fluency as he and new batter Clarke both launched sixes off Wiese, before Callum Parkinson’s 10-ball set ended badly with a six off Bairstow followed by a no-ball which cost four runs.

Fire were cruising to the win, needing 19 from 20 balls, but Brook emerged again with a stunning boundary catch to remove Bairstow for 44 – looping the ball up first to himself and then to Hose to avoid carrying it over the rope.

But Clarke took his side home, hitting 42 from 22 to keep Fire’s hopes burning.

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