Tim Seifert picked a superb time for his breakout on the international cricket stage.
The 24-year-old smacked 84 off 43 balls to lead the Black Caps to an 80-run victory over India in the first Twenty20 – an innings that could have several benefits for the aggressive wicketkeeper.
Not only did it show that he has what it takes at this level, after an underwhelming start to his international career, but it also came as the Black Caps selectors are pondering who will be their back-up wicketkeeper at the ODI World Cup.
That player would need to be a potent hitter and able to cover multiple positions in the batting order, and in his first international as an opener, Seifert put his hand up with a superb innings.
"I loved it – I wanted to make the most of it and having [Colin Munro] out there as well, who is experienced at the top, I loved every minute of it and hopefully with the series going forward we can have more of it," said Seifert.
"It was just a good opportunity being up the top of the order, to show I can bat from 1-7."
Seifert hadn't made the most of his admittedly tricky opportunities in the middle order, having made 42 runs from 32 balls in his first eight Twenty20 internationals. Yesterday, he doubled his career runs, and spent more time at the crease than the previous eight games combined, playing an array of shots that inspired memories of Brendon McCullum in his pomp.
It was a comparison that Seifert was happy to receive.
"I'd be lying if I said Baz wasn't one of my heroes growing up, you try and be yourself out there, but I definitely have looked at Baz throughout my childhood."
It was an innings that delivered on his promise as an X-Factor player – something that could be his ticket to the World Cup, though Seifert says he isn't stressed about selection.
"It's about doing what I can with the opportunities I get.
"I've just got to do what I do, and if that gets me over the line, brilliant, but still being young, I've still got time on my side. Don't get me wrong, I want to be at this World Cup – it'd be a dream come true - but if not, I've got things to work on and I'll get to that next one."
Seifert also claimed two smart catches behind the stumps, including a low one-handed diving effort, something he was pleased about after the Black Caps coaches gave him some instructions on how to improve his glovework.
"Keeping's definitely still a work on, I want to keep getting better at it – keep improving my keeping – but I'm feeling like I'm gloving the ball fairly well at the moment."
Now, the Black Caps are in pole position to hand India their first Twenty20 series defeat since 2017, but Seifert knows things could very easily flip in the second clash of the three-match series at Eden Park tomorrow night.
"To start the series off with a win like that – it shows we've come to play.
"Winning that first game gives you the upper hand, but it's T20 cricket – anything could happen."
Brilliant breakout: Tim Seifert's Twenty20 career
14* from 6 balls
12 from 6 balls
3 from 8 balls
0 from 1 ball
11 from 7 balls
0 from 1 ball
2 from 3 balls
84 from 43 balls
This article was first published on nzherald.co.nz and is republished here with permission.