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The Sydney Sixers BBL|05 campaign will finally get underway on Thursday night at Spotless Stadium as the cross-town rivalry with the Sydney Thunder is revived.

THE HOME GROUND: Read more at Sydney Sixers

LAST TIME WE MET

Everyone remembers how this one went down. In one of the most thrilling BBL games of all time, we made it 7 and 0 against the Thunder.

On that night the stars were Nath Lyon (3/19) with the ball and Jordan Silk (69* off 43) and Stephen O’Keefe (9* off 3) to get us over the line on the last ball, but this match-up shapes as quite a different fixture.

A number of players on both sides of the park who played that night will not be present, while this match will also represent the first time we travel to Spotless Stadium. One thing will be familiar – the pitches have been picked up and transported from nearby ANZ Stadium, which should ensure there’s plenty of runs to be scored.

STAR WATCH

Both sides come in to the clash boasting a number of international stars, but the one to watch is undoubtedly top order batsman Nic Maddinson.

This will be the year that Maddinson goes from exciting youngster to team leader, after he top-scored with 34 (26) in the Sixers one and only hit-out before BBL|05.

For the Thunder, Michael Hussey and Jacques Kallis are among world cricket’s biggest names, but Shane Watson will be the one to watch.

The retired Test all-rounder smashed 61 from 32 deliveries in an intra-club trial before being caught on the boundary, and he’ll be looking to use the tournament to remind selectors of his value to the National ODI and T20 squads. His potential to take key wickets cannot be ignored.

WILDCARD

A player that has played in all three formats for his country is hardly a wildcard, but there is no denying that the Sixers have never had a spin bowling all-rounder of this calibre before.

Johan Botha is a three-star player – he bats, bowls and fields at the elite level – and will make his debut in the magenta in BBL|05. He’ll potentially form one of the best spin bowling attacks ever seen in the BBL with Aussie Test players Nathan Lyon and Stephen O’Keefe.

Botha boasts an imposing bowling record in Twenty20 cricket, and highlighted his batting potential with a well-made 38 for the SCG XI on Sunday.

For the hosts, Aiden Blizzard posted two half-centuries (80 and 51*) in two games against the Sixers in BBL|04, and was in devastating form recently for the Canterbury Kings in New Zealand.

FORM GUIDE

History has not been kind to the Thunder in their match-ups with the Sixers, but a brand new surface awaits two renovated rosters.

Nic Maddinson has been in superb form this season, posting hundreds in both First Class and One Day cricket, and will be one of the keys to victory.

Andre Russell showed how effective he can be in South Africa’s Ram Slam, posting two half centuries – the latter of which was an unbeaten 66 from 23 balls – and taking seven wickets in his last two matches.

The Thunder took a massive leap forward in BBL|04, whilst the Sixers will be striving to go one better and lift the trophy for the second time. Both teams will be confident of being in contention for silverware come the pointy end of the season.

BROADCAST

Stay tuned in to Channel 10 to watch the match live, and follow the Sixers on Twitter and right here on www.sydneysixers.com.au to stay up to date with all the action!

STORY FILED FOR THE SYDNEY SIXERS

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