Axed Australian paceman Mitchell Starc returns for a Sydney Sixers side looking to continue their home city bragging rights when they play Sydney Thunder in a Big Bash League match at ANZ Stadium on Saturday night.
Set up as cross-town rivals for the Twenty20 competition, the results so far have been one-way traffic, the Sixers unbeaten in their five clashes with the Thunder dating back to the inaugural 2011 BBL.
With the mercurial Starc returning to spearhead the Sixers’ attack after being dumped for Australia’s third Test against India, the men in magenta will fancy their chances of making it six in a row.
The 2012 Champions League winners are two from two this season with comfortable victories against the Melbourne Renegades and Hobart Hurricanes, veteran paceman Brett Lee and allrounder Moises Henriques looking in particularly good touch.
But the Thunder appear a different side to the one that finished last in all three editions of the BBL in which they won a combined three games from 23 fixtures.
The addition of star allrounder Jacques Kallis already looks to be a huge boon, the South African belting 97 not out from 55 balls in the Thunder’s 56-run win over the Brisbane Heat in round one.
“Obviously I haven’t been involved in the last few years and it has been quite tough for the guys so to get away with a victory first game up has really got the guys excited,” Kallis said on Friday.
The 39 year-old wasn’t the only star on a night where the Thunder compiled 1-208 with fellow veteran Mike Hussey slamming 96 off 60 balls.
Lee said he expected that pairing to be key for Thunder.
“They’ve always had a decent side – they haven’t probably played up to their expectations but with the way that Jacques and Michael Hussey played the other night we have to make sure we knock these two boys over pretty early,” he said.
Organisers at ANZ Stadium are hoping the crowd will break the record for a domestic cricket match in the state – the 32,587 that attended the Sheffield Shield final between NSW and Victoria in 1934.