Everyone knew the first game under the new lights at Bay Oval was going to be special.
No one knew it was going to be this special.
Tim Seifert, young, gutsy Knights wicketeeper-batsman, blasted his maiden T20 ton — just the fastest century in Burger King Super Smash history, by the way.
The up-and-comer who’s being tipped for the BLACKCAPS in future smashed his 100 off 40 balls, time standing still in the spotlights as he raised his arms and relished reaching a remarkable and rare achievement.
Smashing huge sixes, incredibly the 23-year-old’s previous best in the T20 format was just 41 — he hadn’t even got to a half ton before.
Now, opening the batting after the Knights opted to bat first in their historic home match, he went the distance all the way to 107, nine fours, nine sixes — a Whopper activation all on his own.
Even when he was finally caught by Ben Horne out deep (who relayed it to Mark Chapman as he tipped out of play), it was so very close to being over the boundary that it took the third umpire a few replays to decide it wasn’t his 10th six of the innings after all.
Tim’s ton mattered big-time not just for personal esteem but because the match against an exciting looking Aces crew was destined to go down to the wire.
The Knights’ 214 for nine was a meaty total, but the Aces would later make sure they would need almost every one of those runs as they got within seven runs of knocking them off. But it was Seifert’s fairytale night to the end as the Knights bounced bag in the Bay magnificently from their round one loss the night before in Hamilton.
Seifert likes to get his eye in with a few singles and twos before he goes to boomtown and that’s exactly what he did as Anton Devcich kicked off proceedings with a run-a-ball 33, looking good for a big one himself before falling a couple of balls after tweaking his leg.
Despite newbie Teja Nidamanuru looking like an ace pick from the Auckland selectrors already, once the two spinners teamed up — young Nidamanuru and the Obi-Wan leggie on the scene that is Tarun Nathula, Seifert saw his opportunity and began punching out his own special brand of fireworks.
He jumped from 40 to his maiden 50 in the space of just two balls off Nethula, shot of the night his reverse sweep for six.
Scooping his way to three figures was a magic moment for an excited home crowd, but it was more than exciting for the Knights who watched him keep the scoreboard whirring despite wickets falling around him.
Another Aces newbie this season, Ben Lister, again impressed in the cauldron of the death, the big young left-armer grabbing 3-30 and having gone for little more than a run a ball off his four overs. Speedster Lockie Ferguson was sharp but unrewarded while the remainder of the attack all chimed in with regular breakthroughs, surprise first drop and local big-bopper Brett Hampton having proved a big hit with his 12-ball 28 — getting off the mark with two clean, huge sixes before Nethula put an end to that sudden threat.
It was a superb tactical move by new Knights T20 coach Gareth Hopkins and the thought of what Seifert and Hampton might do in combination in upcoming games must be sending chills down the other coaches’ spines.
The Aces? They had big boppers of their own at the top with the opening pair of Colin Munro and Glenn Phillips as good as any you’ll see.
Phillips bashed 65 from 38 balls but it was the big threat Munro who initially led the charge, though he got a big let-off when he was dropped firs over off Tim Southee. With his 17-ball whirlwind 31, he went on to make a quick impact before he was bowled by Aussie import and T20 specialist Ben Laughlin with the chase at 59 for one.
Speedster Laughlin went on to claim all three of the top order, but not before the Aces had raced to 124 for three inside 13 overs to put themselves right in the frame for a good night out.
Once again classy Robbie O’Donnell provided his side with valuable assistance at the death, an unbeaten 42 from 20 balls this time.
But, unlike in Auckland, it wasn’t quite enough to get the visitors over the line, a big over from Tim Southee at the death leaving them needing 12 from the last four balls, Laughlin finishing off the job for the bowling attack and making sure Seifert got the chocolates on his big night out.
Seifert’s innings beat the record that had been held since 2012 by former Central Stags and BLACKCAP Jamie How, whose fastest ton had flown off 45 balls. Round two continues this afternoon with the Stags hosting the Canterbury Kings at Saxton Oval in Nelson (2pm) followed by the Volts up against the Firebirds at Dunedin's University of Otago Oval (4.10pm live on SKY Sport).