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New Zealand batsman Henry Nicholls replaces Jacques Kallis in Sydney Thunder squad

The Sydney Thunder will rush New Zealand batsman Henry Nicholls into their line-up for Saturday's must-win Big Bash League match against the Sydney Sixers to replace injured all-rounder Jacques Kallis.

Kallis has a groin injury and will be rested from the match at the SCG. It is hoped the South African great will be available if the Thunder progress to their first finals appearance.

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Nicholls, a 24-year-old left-handed batsman, made his one-day international debut for the Kiwis against Sri Lanka on Boxing Day, but he came to the attention of the Thunder during their pre-season tour of New Zealand when they played trial matches against Canterbury.

He scored an unbeaten 42 in the Canterbury Kings' nine-run win over the Thunder in Christchurch. When the Thunder realised they would need to replace Kallis and Usman Khawaja, who is in Australia's one-day squad, it is understood Nicholls received endorsements from Mike Hussey and Shane Watson after they played alongside him in a New Zealand's domestic T20 competition match.

"He's an exciting player, who is playing extremely well," Hussey said. "He's just working his way into the New Zealand set-up and is a player of high quality and we are very fortunate to have him."
 
After losing Kallis and Khawaja for the local derby, Hussey said the Thunder were keen to secure a top-order batsman.
 
"We threw around a number of ideas," Hussey said. "Losing both our opening batsman created a hole at the top of the order. Even though we've lost Kallis we feel we have the cover with the ball, but [we] were keen to shore up the batting."

Nicholls said he could not believe how the summer had turned out after playing in New Zealand's triumphant series against Sri Lanka.

"It's all happened very quickly," Nicholls said. "It was awesome to play in series against Sri Lanka, especially to play as much as I did.
 
"The Big Bash is very popular back home and it's very exciting to now be involved in a very big game for a team who have a chance to qualify for the finals."
 
When Nicholls was selected for the Kiwis, New Zealand's batting coach, Craig McMillan, spoke glowingly of his game.

"His progression over the last 24 months has been excellent, he's matured in a lot of areas in terms of his game," McMillan said. "He's a good back-foot player, he's good against spin, prepared to use his feet and sweep. He pretty much covers all the bases."

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