'World class' Khawaja gives Thunder a boost before Sixers clash

Sydney Thunder captain Shane Watson says the inclusion of Usman Khawaja can push the side towards a Big Bash finals berth, calling his former Australian teammate a "world class player".

Following Khawaja's classy 85 from 51 deliveries in the Thunder's three-run victory over the Perth Scorchers on Thursday night, Watson said he was glad to be able to see Khawaja play with so much freedom after his place in the Australian Test team was questioned throughout the Ashes series.

"I'm just thrilled for Uz," Watson said. "It just shows that he is one of the best batsmen in the world, not just in Australia.

"To be able to dismantle a high-quality bowling attack like he did [on Thursday] is incredible and it really just, from my perspective, comes from the freedom that he has when he plays for the Thunder."

Watson says the winless Sixers will be a far more formidable than they have been with the inclusion of Nathan Lyon, Jackson Bird, Moises Henriques and West Indies international Carlos Brathwaite.

"It's going to add a lot more strength to their team, give them that bit more confidence so we know we are going to have to be at our best to be able to beat the Sixers," Watson said. "We are definitely going to be up for it as we always are against the Sixers, it's a great rivalry we have, we've had some really good success here at the SCG.

"We're gonna have to be at our best to try and get that momentum going early and hold it."

Sydney Sixers captain Johan Botha agreed with Watson that the inclusion of Lyon, Bird, Henriques and Brathwaite would boost the Sixers, and said preventing the Thunder from making the BBL finals would be a motivator for the Sixers.

"The Thunder have got a little bit over us in the past two or three years, they made it hard for us to get in those play-offs last year, so hopefully we can do the same this year," Botha said. "It's always nice to have Nathan back, he's bowling beautifully at the moment, so that's great.

"I think it will be a real good challenge and it will be a good game."

This story 'World class' Khawaja gives Thunder a boost before Sixers clash first appeared on Brisbane Times.