Big guns Smith, Hazlewood set to bolster Sixers
Steve Smith will be back playing Big Bash as early as next week with the Sydney Sixers plotting to unleash their returning international big guns in an ominous warning to the Melbourne Stars that they haven't got the title in the bag just yet.
Glenn Maxwell's Stars are now almost certain to finish the regular season in first place after the Sixers were forced to split the points with the Hobart Hurricanes when last night's match at the SCG was washed out by rain.
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Now five points behind Melbourne, the Sixers have all but lost their chance of hosting 'the qualifier' - the playoff match between first and second to decide who gets to host the final - but are poised to strike at the perfect time with their heavy artillery all about to return.
Nathan Lyon will make his comeback against the Sydney Thunder tomorrow night after the GOAT was cleared to play again after injuring a thumb in the final Test against New Zealand.
And Smith and Josh Hazlewood could be playing in magenta in next Thursday's clash against AB De Villiers' Brisbane Heat at the Gabba - assuming both are allowed to resume playing as soon as they get back from India.
"We're wanting them back out of India as soon as possible. Nothing's been confirmed there but we'd like to have Steve and Josh available for us," Sixers coach Greg Shipperd said.
"What a win for T20 cricket, the competition, the best couple up against de Villiers and co, that would be a great game if they could all be available."
Both men are expected to fly straight to Brisbane after Sunday's final ODI in India, arriving in Queensland two days before the match against the Heat and both should be fresh with Hazlewood not playing in the first ODI and Smith not required to bat.
Lyon was not selected for the ODI tour and Shipperd said he was chomping at the bit to get back into the fray after joining his teammates in training before last night's rained-out match.
"We should squeeze him into the side, shouldn't we?" Shipperd said.
"He was around the group today and he was feeling pretty comfortable so he's doing something with Cricket Australia tomorrow (Friday) then he'll come and bowl in the nets and that'll be the tick that we'll need.
"He's a world-class international bowler and he's always done great things for us in our colours so it's great to have him back but it sort of means that a couple of our emerging spinners will have to wait their turn."