Hughes fails fitness test, joins Philippe on sidelines

A South Australian Sheffield Shield rising star has been roped in by the two-time defending champion Sydney Sixers as they face their toughest test yet in tonight's Challenger final

Experienced Sydney Sixers batter Daniel Hughes has been ruled out of tonight's 'Challenger' final against the Adelaide Strikers at the SCG.

The left-hander made a last-ditch effort to prove his fitness for the must-win clash in the nets about an hour before the toss.

It's another blow for the two-time reigning champions who lost star opening batter Josh Philippe earlier today after he tested positive to COVID-19.

It means Philippe will also miss Friday night's final should the Sixers win tonight and earn the right to play the Perth Scorchers for the KFC BBL|11 crown.

South Australian-based 26-year-old Jake Carder has been called up from the Centralised Player Replacement Pool into the starting line-up to make his debut for the club.

The left-handed top order batter had not met many of his new teammates prior to the match and has never trained with the Sixers.

Carder has played five Marsh Sheffield Shield matches for South Australia this year, scoring 118 in the first game of the season alongside Travis Head, Alex Carey and several of the Strikers players he will oppose tonight.

Carder carves breakthrough Shield century

Hayden Kerr has been listed to open the batting for the Sixers, moving up from No. 8 in their previous final against the Scorchers where he made his top Big Bash score of 22.

The right-handed allrounder has opened the batting once for the Sixers before, in BBL|09 where he made a duck off four balls in a tied Sydney Smash against the Thunder that they won in a Super Over.

The Sixers said Hughes had been working around the with Sixers' physio Danny Redrup since injuring the left ankle on Saturday night but was ruled out about 6pm.

The 32-year-old was diagnosed with a grade 2-3 high left ankle sprain after tripping on the boundary rope while practicing fielding during the warm-up before Saturday night's loss to the Perth Scorchers in the 'Qualifier' final.

The left-hander rolled his ankle while taking a high catch and was replaced in the selected XI by debutant Nick Bertus just 15 minutes before the first ball.

Hughes told Fox Cricket's Adam Gilchrist and Mark Howard that he was "pretty close" to playing.

"I couldn't pull or cut the ball; I couldn't put a lot of weight on my back foot, so give it a miss tonight and hopefully in two days' time it might be a bit better," he said.

"I just damaged some ligaments, there's no tear, so hopefully I'll be coming up in two days."

The Sixers have now lost all three of their top order batters since their last game of the regular season with Jack Edwards also testing positive to COVID-19 before the Scorchers match. His brother Mickey was also diagnosed with the virus and both will miss the rest of the Big Bash.

Sixers captain Moises Henriques won the bat flip and elected to bowl first. Play will start at 7.25pm.

Sixers XI: Justin Avendano, Hayden Kerr, Jake Carder, Moises Henriques (c), Jordan Silk, Dan Christian, Sean Abbott, Ben Dwarshuis, Nathan Lyon, Stephen O'Keefe. X-factor sub: Jackson Bird, Lloyd Pope

Strikers XI: Alex Carey (wk), Matt Short, Ian Cockbain, Travis Head, Jonathan Wells, Matthew Renshaw, Thomas Kelly, Henry Thornton, Harry Conway, Peter Siddle (c), Fawad Ahmed. X-factor subs: Jake Weatherald, Liam O'Connor