The fifth edition of the Big Bash League (BBL) is set to kick-start with the Sydney derby when the Thunder will take on the Sixers at the Spotless Stadium on Thursday.
On paper, both Sydney Thunder and Sydney Sixers have breath-taking talents but they need to prove their worth on the field.
Despite having a pretty good squad, Thunder finished at the bottom of the points table of the BBL thrice in the last four seasons. It is high time that their seasoned T20 campaigners step up to the occasion and improve the statistics.
Sydney Thunder have roped in Shane Watson, Andre Russell, Jacques Kallis for the current edition of the BBL and that will solidify their middle-order. They can be lethal when it comes to demolish a bowling lineup as well. With Michael Hussey leading the charge, Sydney Thunder should be able to turn the wheels of fortune in their favour.
Watson's performance will be monitored by the selectors as ICC World T20 2016 is in the horizon. Also, Australia are yet to name their ODI and T20 squad that will take on India from 12 January.
Russell has been a T20 phenomenon in the current year and he is in demand as several other teams of the T20 leagues around the world want him in their ranks. It will be interesting to see whether he can turn the stats in favour of Thunders in BBL 2015-2016.
It will not be a cakewalk for Sydney Thunder against the Sixers. As a matter of fact, these two teams have played against each other seven times and Sixers have won all seven of these prior encounters.
Sixers have powerful lineup too. Michael Lumb, Nic Maddinson, Brad Haddin will look to light things up with their willow. They have a number of exciting all-rounders in their ranks as well. Doug Bollinger, Johan Botha, Sean Abbott and Moises Henriques will handle the bowling department. All these players are experienced T20 campaigners and they can come in handy against Sydney Thunder.
However, Sixers will be missing the services of Steve Smith as he decided to rest himself for a niggle that he has been carrying for quite some time now. Mitchell Starc is ruled out because of an ankle injury and is likely to miss the ICC World T20 2016 as well. They also have Usman Khawaja in their squad but he was recovering from a hamstring injury and it is unlikely that he will be named in the playing XI against Thunder.
The wicket that will be used for the first match of the BBL 2015-2016 will be a drop in one.
"We did practice out there last night and the pitch played really well. We have actually got the two pitches from the ANZ Stadium over, and they played really well last year. We're hoping for just a good track, really," Sydney Thunder skipper Michael Hussey told reporters ahead of their clash against Sydney Sixers.
Sydney Thunder: Michael Hussey (c), Fawad Ahmed, Ahillen Beadle, Aiden Blizzard, Patrick Cummins, Jake Doran, Chris Green, Chris Hartley, Jacques Kallis (OS), Usman Khawaja, Alister McDermott, Andrew McDonald, Clint McKay, Kurtis Patterson, Ben Rohrer, Andre Russell (OS), Gurinder Sandhu, Shane Watson.
Sydney Sixers: Sean Abbott, Jackson Bird, Doug Bollinger, Johan Botha (OS), Ryan Carters, Ben Dwarshius, Michael Edwards, Brad Haddin, Josh Hazlewood, Moises Henriques (c), Trent Lawford, Michael Lumb (OS), Nathan Lyon, Nic Maddinson, Stephen O'Keefe, Jordan Silk, Steve Smith, Mitchell Starc.
Where to watch live:
The opening game of the Big Bash League (BBL) 2015 between Sydney Thunder and Sydney Sixers is scheduled for a 7:30 pm local time (2pm IST, 9:30 am BST and 8:30 am GMT) start. T20 fans in India can tune into Star Sports 1 and Star Sports HD 1. The live streaming option will be available on Starsports.com and Hotstar.com.
Viewers in UK can switch to Sky Sports 1 and Sky Sports HD 1 to watch Sydney Thunder vs Sydney Sixers. The live stremaing option will be availabel of Watch Sky Sports.
Audience in Australia can tune into Fox Sports for the live action of the Big Bash League. Fans can also stream the BBL match between Syndey Thunder and Sydney Sixers on Tenplay, Bigbash.com.au and cricket.com.au.