About the Match
Amidst the serious red-ball tussle between the national teams, Big Bash League is an even which a lot of Cricket fans would have been waiting for. The premier domestic T20 competition of Australia starts on 20th December with Sydney Thunders taking on Sydney Sixers at Spotless Stadium, Sydney. Unlike IPL, the format of BBL is pretty straight-forward with eight teams fighting it out in the league stage and top four making it to the semifinal which will be played on 24th and 25th January. The title match will be played on 28th January. Such is the craze among the fans that the Sydney derby is already sold out. Although quite a few internationals stars will not be available owing to the national duty, it still promises to be a cracker of an opening game.
Thunders will be the most confident side coming to the competition this year. After staying in the bottom half of the table for first four seasons and barely making it to the semis in the fifth one, they finally won the title last year. They are led by veteran all-rounder Shane Watson and have plenty of talent available at disposal.
Mike Hussey and Jacques Kallis were their biggest contributors to their last year's success who will not be available in this season. Another big setback will be the absence of Usman Khawaja who will be playing for Australia. Despite the veterans missing, the Thunders' lineup still boasts a solid set of T20 players. Eoin Morgan, Aiden Blizzard, Ben Roher and Andre Russel can be devastating with the bat and can require runs at remarkably quick pace. Their bowling looks stronger than their batting with Clint McKay, Andre Russel, Pat Cummins and the skipper himself.
Watson picked up a hamstring injury in a warm-up game against Canterbury and if he doesn't play the opening game, the thunders will be under a lot of pressure. Losing out four of main players from the last year's success isn't what they were hoping for, but they'll have to deal with it. Even without those, the thunders are a decent side and can topple the Sixers with match winners like Russel, Morgan and Blizzard.
Exactly opposite to their derby rivals, the Sixers finished with the wooden spoon in the last edition of Big Bash League. They've had a solid history as they've made it to the knockouts thrice in five editions. They'll be hoping to finish better than they did last year.
The Sixers are hit badly with most of their players out for national duty. Their complete bowling lineup, which is, Mitchell Starc, Josh Hazelwood, Jackson Bird and Nathan Lyon will miss out the opening game and perhaps more matches in future. They surely have stacked up their bench strength, though. The bowlers will be replaced with the likes of Doug Bollinger, Joe Mennie, Steven 'O Keefe and Ben Dwarshius. Despite their lead bowlers set to miss the opening match, their bowling looks settled with only Ben Dwarshius as a visible weak link.
Their batting is led by Brad Haddin who had a big role to play in last year's edition. Nic Maddinson will be a big miss if Australia continues to reserve him for the Test squad. Their team will be balanced by a plethora of all-rounders in Johan Botha, Shaun Abbot and skipper Moises Henquires himself. Overall, the Sixers are a decent side, but with many players missing, Henriques will have to lead from the front with ample support from others.
Both teams are lacking some serious bite from their last year's squad. Most of the Sixers' players will be away for national duties while for thunders its either injuries or retirement. Their fate was exactly opposite in the last season of Big Bash, but things can change pretty quickly in Cricket, especially in the shortest format. The thunders will be a more confident side and with Sixers batting lineup looking to be a little weak, we think Thunders will take the all important points in the opening game.