JONNY BAIRSTOW continued his recent revival with his first Twenty20 century to help Yorkshire Vikings to a crucial 49-run victory over Durham Jets in the NatWest T20 Blast.
Overlooked by England this summer and restricted by a finger injury at the start of the summer, Bairstow has responded with an unbeaten 161 against Sussex in the championship last month.
But he saved his most brutal form for a game that Yorkshire had to win to prevent Durham leapfrogging them into the North Group qualification places.
Bairstow hit an unbeaten 102 off only 58 balls, an innings that included eight fours and six sixes, and enabled Yorkshire to reach a formidable total of 186 for eight, which proved beyond Durham after they were dismissed for 137.
His innings was all the more crucial for the loss of Yorkshire’s two overseas players inside the first three overs after they were put into bat.
Aaron Finch, captaining the side after Andrew Gale was left out as his wife prepares to give birth, gave a leading edge to backward point and Williamson offered a similar catch to cover and earn Australian John Hastings wickets in his first two overs.
Just as they had done against Durham at Headingley when they were unable to chase 124, Yorkshire fell into trouble and slipped to 83 for five as they attempted to claim only their second win in the last six games.
But Bairstow showed his intent by claimed his half-century off 39 balls, before accelerating towards the end of the innings and helping Yorkshire to add 102 off the last eight overs.
The second 50 off his innings took only 18 balls, mainly thanks to hitting three successive sixes off the 19th over of the innings from spinner Gareth Breese, while he reached three figures with another six, this time off Chris Rushworth, off the penultimate ball of the innings.
Bairstow’s performance was all the more remarkable for no other player reaching 30 in the innings, although Adil Rashid hit a quickfire 29 off 19 balls to help add 64 in 37 balls before being bowled by Rushworth in the 18th over.
Once Bairstow reached three figures he punched the air with delight and was applauded by the 6,746 crowd and Yorkshire fed off his performance to take that momentum into the field.
Durham’s innings began badly and they slumped to 45-5 at the halfway stage of their reply and even an aggressive 62 from 32 balls, which included five fours and four sixes, was not enough to challenge Yorkshire’s dominance.
Yorkshire’s victory was sealed with a diving catch from Finch at mid-on, his fourth catch of the innings, with two balls remaining to dismiss Breese to keep the county on course for the quarter-finals.