Steve O’Keefe picked up 4 for 14, including two in the opening over to ensure Stars were never in the hunt
Sydney Sixers 4 for 213 (Philippe 83, Henriques 76*, Couch 2-36) beat Melbourne Stars 61 (Nevill 18, O’Keefe 4-14, Abbott 3-14, Kerr 2-6) by 152 runs
Philippe starts with a bang
It was a rather chastening winter for Philippe in his first introduction to the international set-up. He got set twice against New Zealand, but then in the more unaccustomed conditions of West Indies and Bangladesh, his highest score was 13 in five innings to miss the World Cup squad. However, in the early part of the season, he has shown excellent form for Western Australia and back in Sixers’ colours he produced a superb display. He was lagging behind James Vince during the initial stages but was soon up to speed to bring up a 33-ball fifty. Then he really cut loose with a brace of sixes in the first of the Power Surge overs against Sam Rainbird, the first of them onto the roof of the pavilion. When he moved into the 80s in the 16th over, Sixers’ first BBL hundred was on the cards but he then lost the strike to Henriques and perished to a catch at deep midwicket. Still, he had set an early marker.
Captain cuts loose
Henriques is one of the most impressive leaders in Australian cricket. He was restricted to five games last season due to being in Australia’s bio-bubble Test squad, but it’s unlikely he will feature this season so should have a full Sixers’ campaign. He had a fantastic platform to build on after the opening stand of 90 between Philippe and Vince. He certainly made the most of it after looking in good touch during a warm-up game against Sydney Thunder last week. His first boundary came off his fourth ball and he reached a 29-ball fifty with a mighty straight drive off Sam Elliott. He finished one short of his career-best.
Stars’ bowling looks thin
Heading into the season, the major questions were around Stars’ attack despite the presence of Adam Zampa. Their side for this game also suffered the loss of Stoinis with a side strain. The pace bowling is especially stretched with Billy Stanlake and Liam Hatcher injured while Nathan Coulter-Nile is unavailable. Elliott and Brody Couch, on his birthday, made their T20 debuts as did Pakistan left-arm wristspinner Syed Faridoun who was playing the first professional match of his career. Couch’s two overs went for 15 and 13 although he did have Vince dropped off a skier that neither the bowler nor wicketkeeper Peter Nevill could cling onto. Couch did show good composure in sending down the final over and opened his wicket tally.
If this does prove to be O’Keefe’s final season, he has started in a grand manner by claiming Joe Clarke and Nick Larkin in his first over. Stars’ slimmest of hopes rested with Glenn Maxwell but he was cleaned up by Sean Abbott inside the powerplay to leave them 3 for 18. O’ Keefe could do no wrong as he claimed a spectacular catch at deep third to remove Nevill and a ball later Hayden Kerr found himself on a hat-trick. He was not immediately given the chance of his third, and instead, Abbott got the ball and claimed two wickets in three balls. In a final sign of how the game panned, O’Keefe bowled a hat-trick ball with two close catchers. Tournaments aren’t won and lost on the opening night but Stars will want to move on from this one quickly.
Andrew McGlashan is a deputy editor at ESPNcricinfo