Northern Superchargers 128 for 4 (Lynn 48, Brook 47*) beat Oval Invincibles 127 for 6 (Roy 52*, Curran 34*, Rashid 3-13) by six wickets
Harry Brook is the leading run-scorer in the men's Hundred and his third vital contribution in a row almost single-handedly dragged Northern Superchargers to a last-gasp win to get their campaign up and running on a sluggish Headingley pitch.
Adil Rashid's miserly spell of 3 for 13 had helped restrict Oval Invincibles to 127 after they chose to bat, with Jason Roy and Tom Curran's unbroken stand of 67 for the seventh wicket leading a recovery from 60 for 6. Their late fireworks meant it looked like a par score on a two-paced surface which took plenty of turn, but Brook's mature, controlled innings saw the Superchargers home.
Brook came in at No. 4, the role he started to perfect for Yorkshire in this season's Vitality Blast, with the Superchargers 23 for 2 after 21 balls. He gritted out a partnership of 64 off 59 balls with Chris Lynn, looking every bit the senior player as Lynn struggled for timing, before closing out the game with John Simpson, whose enormous straight six sealed the win with three balls to spare.
Brook no argument
Brook was knocked off top spot in the Blast's run charts in the final rounds of the group stage and looks determined to ensure the same fate will not await in the Hundred. He played crucial hands to keep their first two games - against Welsh Fire and Trent Rockets - alive, and at the third time of asking, dragged them home with the night's most fluent innings, a cool-headed 47 not out off 30 balls.
He was circumspect against Sunil Narine, rightly recognising him as the Invincibles' main threat, but was confident in taking down Curran and Tabraiz Shamsi. He scored runs all around the ground, sweeping firmly but also hitting down the ground, through point and through extra cover, and batted with immense control to keep the required rate in check throughout.
"There wasn't many runs on the board so me and Lynny were just trying to knock it round and take the dangerman out of it," he said. "It's nice to win, especially in front of a home crowd with a few Yorkshire lads playing. I've said a lot of times I want to be a match-winner and that's a good example of it there."
It is a sign of England's white-ball depth that Brook - described by Mark Butcher as a "beefed up, modern version of Joe Root" - did not make their second-string ODI squad earlier this month. Given his control and range of shots against both pace and spin, he is certain to win wider recognition - either internationally or in franchise tournaments - before long.
Invincibles' slow start … and middle
Invincibles opted to bat on the assumption that the pitch would only get slower, but they eked out only 18 Powerplay runs, the fewest in the men's competition to date. The openers managed six between them before Will Jacks nicked Brydon Carse behind, and pinch-hitter Narine's leg-side thrash off Matty Potts was the only boundary in the first 25 balls as the Superchargers' seamers kept their lines tight to cramp the top order for room.
Narine came up against his biggest weakness - back-of-a-length high pace with no width - but managed to get two further blows away when the fielding restrictions lifted, twice slapping Carse over the leg side before holing out off Mujeeb Ur Rahman for a useful cameo of 22 from 11 balls. The value of Narine's innings became increasingly clear as the innings wore on: between the 33rd ball (Narine's dismissal) and the 79th, the Invincibles failed to hit a single boundary as the spinners took over.
Rashid had Colin Ingram caught on the cover boundary, Potts bowled Sam Billings as he backed away to cut, and Rashid struck in consecutive balls when Laurie Evans picked out deep midwicket and Dane Vilas held onto a blinding slip catch to remove Jordan Clark. With Tabraiz Shamsi, a genuine tailender, carded at No. 9, Curran was forced to consolidate alongside the scratchy Roy, who repeatedly stared at the pitch in disbelief after balls stuck in the surface.
The Roy-Curran show
At 72 for 6 off 78 balls, the Invincibles were deep in the mire, but some lusty late-innings hitting dragged them up towards a par score. Roy evoked the innings played by Alex Hales - his long-time England opening partner - in the Superchargers' last completed game, gritting out 25 from his first 34 balls before slog-sweeping Mujeeb over the leg side, while Curran hit consecutive boundaries through midwicket before a sumptuous, checked straight drive flew down the ground for six.
David Willey missed his length at the death, hitting the slot with each of the innings' final three balls and was thumped for six, six and four as Roy cut loose at the last. The final boundary brought up his half-century, a hard grind that took 43 balls, and the unbroken 67-run stand in 42 balls for the seventh wicket helped them towards something they thought they could defend.
While the Hundred's double-header structure this year has done great things for the women's game in terms of greater crowds and exposure, an unintended consequence has been a number of slow-burning men's matches on slow, used pitches. This was no different, with neither side able to hit boundaries regularly.
Lynn was particularly slow-burning, top-edging a six off Saqib Mahmood when Billings opted to reward his early dismissal of Willey with a second consecutive set of five balls but otherwise struggling to find the rope. He eventually holed out to Evans at wide long-off, opting to attack the final ball of Narine's spell, leaving a tricky equation of 31 off 20 balls.
But the Invincibles struggled to cope with the greasy outfield as the chase wore on, a result of the rain earlier in the day, and were sloppy in the deep to help the Superchargers turn several ones into twos. Mahmood's nightmarish drop of Simpson with 26 needed off 15 was particularly criminal, not least when Simpson sliced Curran for four through third man and then slogged him down the ground for six to seal the win, standing open-armed in celebration as the Superchargers completed their first win.