Perth Scorchers face a tough challenge to consolidate their top-two position on the Big Bash ladder tonight, with Sydney Sixers including Test stars Steve Smith and Nathan Lyon for the clash at the SCG.
The Scorchers moved to second with a heart-stopping victory over Hobart at the WACA Ground on Tuesday, but will be without key pair Shaun Marsh and Nathan Coulter-Nile because of national one-day duties.
Young paceman Pat Cummins is also unavailable for tonight's game and will instead play a second game of grade cricket in his return from a back injury.
A win over the third-placed Sixers would see the Scorchers retain second spot with two matches left to play, but a loss could see them drop as low as fourth and put them in danger of missing the semifinals for the first time since the competition was established.
Paceman Ryan Duffield has been named in the 13-man squad and should play if Alfonso Thomas fails to overcome a back injury, while Hilton Cartwright looms as a possible replacement for Marsh in the batting order.
Scorchers captain Simon Katich realised his side would be up against it without Marsh and Coulter-Nile, but believed it still had the talent to finish the season well.
"The guys are happy with where we are at," Katich said.
"We are also realistic to know we've been fortunate on a few occasions to win games we shouldn't have.
"But we know if we start to get things right, particularly with the bat, we can make it easier.
"Sixers are a great team, they are right up there, equal points with us, so it's a massive game for us. The aim is to get to the semis and anything can happen."
Sixers captain Smith and spinner Lyon are hoping to use the Big Bash to put themselves in contention for next year's one-day World Cup to be played in Australia and New Zealand.
Despite starring in the 5-0 Ashes whitewash, Smith and Lyon were both overlooked for the five-game one-day series against England, beginning at the MCG on Sunday.
Lyon said he hoped a solid performance in the Big Bash would put him in line for international selection in the shorter formats and backed his Sixers captain Smith to force his way into the Australian one-day squad sooner rather than later.
"I am a little bit surprised that Steve isn't in the one-day set-up at the moment," Lyon said.
"He's a world-class player. We all know that. It's another opportunity for him to come out with the white ball and really show his world class and put his hand up for selection like anyone else."