The Sydney Sixers travel north to Coffs Harbour on Friday in their final warm up match before starting their BBL 06 campaign against cross town rivals the Sydney Thunder.
The Sixers take on Hong Kong and will looking to improve on their eight-wicket defeat to the Bangladesh Cricket Board XI at North Sydney Oval on Wednesday.
This will also be the last opportunity for players to showcase their talent to head coach Greg Shipperd and captain Brad Haddin before the BBL season starts. Still hoping to improve on the Sixers disappointing BBL 05 campaign where the men in magenta lost six games out of eight, every match becomes vital and competitiveness for spots is healthy, something that the Sixers lacked last year.
Who to watch for the Sydney Sixers: The experienced Johan Botha will be vital to the Sydney Sixers success in BBL 06 and will no doubt be using this game too tune up his batting and bowling.
Botha is a destructive batsman capable of hitting the ball well past the boundary and turning games in an instant.
His bowling is almost as dangerous as evident by his 5 tests, 78 ODI’s and 40 T20I’s for his native South Africa where he was a front line bowler. The turn that he generates off the pitch along with his variation make him one of the toughest bowlers in the BBL to score off.
Hong Kong will need to play some very smart and patient cricket against the wily veteran.
Hong Kong are coming off recent ODI series against Kenya and Papua New Guinea. They created a boil over last month when they defeated a heavily favoured Kenyan side in Nairobi and drew the two match series 1-1.
Before that they collected a hard-earned 2-1 series win against Papua New Guinea at home.
Still a developing cricketing nation, Hong Kong has come on in leaps and bounds in the last 12 months by participating in the World T20 tournament in India back in March. Despite losing all three games, they were highly competitive losing to Zimbabwe by 14-runs, Afghanistan by six-wickets and to Scotland by eight-wickets.
They will see this match against the Sixers as a chance of further development as well as good experience against quality international and domestic players.
Who to watch for Hong Kong: Babar Hayat is a virtual unknown to anyone outside of Hong Kong but the Pakistani-born has been a star with the bat for Hong Kong in the past 12 months.
Hayat also averages 30.29 from 21 T20I’s with a brilliant strike rate of 131.37, adding to this is his fantastic ODI form which has seen him collect five 50’s in just 12 ODI innings.
In Hong Kong’s last ODI (ICC World Cricket League Championships) against Kenya, Hayat scored 78 not out from 68 balls including six fours and four sixes to guide Hong Kong to a famous victory.
Last meeting: There have been no previous meetings between the Sydney Sixers and Hong Kong.
Last time out: Sydney Sixers 9-169 (Daniel Hughes 47 (31), Jason Roy 42 (23) defeated by Bangladesh Cricket Board XI 3-84 (Mahmudullah 29* (13) Soumil Chhibber 2-35 (3) by seven wickets (D/L method) at North Sydney Oval.
Hong Kong 4-148 (Babar Hayat 78 (66), Chris Carter 41 (63) off 25.1 overs defeated Kenya 133 (Alex Obanda 39 (38), Ehsan Khan 3-12 (4), Tanveer Ahmed 3-20 (2), Nadeem Ahmed 3-23 (5) by 39 runs (D/L method) at Gymkhana Club Ground, Nairobi- Kenya.