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IPL finally gets its first glimpse of superstar Harry Brook

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Last updated on 14 Apr 2023 | 09:00 PM
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IPL finally gets its first glimpse of superstar Harry Brook

Brook arrived and his arrival brought about a boundary monsoon in Kolkata

Over the last 12 months, Harry Brook has done it all in world cricket.

A debut in Test cricket? An average of 80.90 🔝

A place in the T20 World Cup squad? A World Cup 🏆-winner

A Test century in Asia? Make that three✅, mate! 

Crack the IPL🧑‍💻, then?  

The hype around him was surreal. So, when Sunrisers Hyderabad broke the bank, shelling a staggering INR 13.25 crore, there was just one question on several lips: 13.25 crore? For someone who hasn’t done a whole lot in the shortest format? For someone who has just played 20 T20Is?

Would he even be a sure-shot starter? Wondered the others. Three games into the season, and scores of 13 (21), 3 (4) and 13 (14), everyone wanted the Yorkshire lad to take the next flight back home. The extremities of the Indian fans are such that you know how cruel the comments would have got.

Some called him ‘rubbish’, some termed him a ‘fraud’ and several others pointed their fingers at the youngster to give the money back. That’s where he stood his ground and showed the world how it is done. Sunrisers backed him, and in return also gave him a bigger hand: opening the innings. Necessity was the mother of invention.

Only thrice in all T20s had Brook previously opened, and his best score was 17. The returns were bleak as he averaged eight. Enough for franchises to not tread on that troubled waters but Sunrisers were insistent they would sail on that troubled water. And, they sailed quite well.

Also Read: Harry Brook, not just another hyped English cricketer

Prior to the Punjab clash on Saturday, Brook hadn't opened in nearly two years. His last innings as an opener was a duck. But when he walked out alongside Mayank Agarwal against the Kings, his intent was well captured, with a four off the first ball. It was a ball on the sixth stump. He showed his intent further against Arshdeep Singh when he smacked two more boundaries.

Just when the home fans were finally getting a sight of the monster that Brook is, they were shell-shocked by a slower delivery. Arshdeep had his arms up in the air, and the Englishman walked away in pure disappointment.

As he walked back, his phone would have buzzed and buzzed endlessly. In his own admission, it did have him bothered, as he put a bit of pressure on himself.

**

“Only good on flat tracks,” “Flat track bullies”, “Harry Brook fraud”, and “No PSL, no party” were some of the comments that did the rounds on social media, across platforms. It had gone to an extreme where Brook had to restrict his comments on Instagram.

For someone who had grown up in England, criticism isn’t new but a million people spamming across social media platforms would have taken him by surprise. He could have taken the easy route of hitting back on social media but he didn’t. All he did was stand up and respond with the bat.

But to do that in front of 60,000 fans is a completely different proposition. But that’s Brook. He’s built differently. He’s built to last the pressure, he’s built to be England’s poster boy. Umesh Yadav’s first ball was right up there, it was in the slot, and Brook timed a crunching boundary. If a boundary through the off-side wasn’t enough, he slammed one onto the leg side for another four.

Most batters usually would have been content with two boundaries. But Brook is different gravy.

Fast and pacy, he moved a bit and scooped a straight one past the short-fine leg fielder for a four. IT WAS OUTRAGEOUS.

A batter out-of-form doing such outrageous stuff? Oh, Harry. 

But when you thought you'd seen enough, he went ahead and sliced one over the cover boundary for a 71m six. It was a slice of perfection. Then he carved a pumpkin for the Knight Rider Halloween party, for another maximum. In just 11 deliveries, Brook had carved himself a new fortune, and 31 runs.

Brook’s innings wasn't all perfect. It seldom is in a tournament like the IPL. If anything, Brook’s struggle against spin was evident, and he himself admitted it during the mid-innings break. It was an apparent weakness that KKR had already pointed out but that’s where Brook was one step ahead. He barely took a risk against spin.

Only once had Brook previously ever seen Sunil Narine load a delivery up. The second occasion was on Friday (April 14), at the Eden Gardens, in front of 60,000 people, who were shouting the spinner’s name at the top of their voices.

It was an intimidating prospect.

But for Brook, it was a perfect opportunity to tread the water, and he scored just 34 runs against spinners in 29 balls. Further filtered, he faced exactly nine deliveries and scored just seven runs against Narine. Against the other mystery spinner, Varun Chakaravarthy, he took the match-up on with two boundaries – 17 runs from 12 balls to be exact. 

“I’ve had a bit of trouble with spin, but I wanted to use the powerplay to my advantage. So middle overs wanted to rotate the strike and let the other boys do the hitting,” he said during the mid-innings break.

And once that trouble was done, he had smashed his next 52 runs in just 25 balls, with seven boundaries and one six, at a strike rate of 208. In the 15th over of the innings, Kolkata had brought Lockie Ferguson back into the attack, and immediately, Brook played a picture-perfect shot, a sublime punch over long-off for a massive maximum. 

A tired Brook was on 95, and there was just an over left. Two quick doubles later, he was on 99. Not flashy, not a glory hit, Brook got to a century with just a single.

The first century of 2023 IPL. Brook got there in just four innings. Brook etched his name on the record books, he became the only batter in the history of the game to score a century in the Pakistan Super League (PSL) and the IPL and also became the fourth-youngest to get to the milestone. 

“You go on social media and people are calling you rubbish. There's a lot of Indian fans out there who'll say well done tonight. But they were slagging me off a few days ago. Glad I could shut them up, to be honest,” he then said in the post-match presentation, taking no prisoners. 

On and off the field, Brook shut down all the criticisms and trolls. Sunrisers might have got two points for a win, but the biggest winner on the night was the 24-year-old from Yorkshire.

The IPL better brace itself, for Harry Brook has arrived.

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