Melbourne, January 24: James Vince and Josh Philippe made half-centuries as Sydney Sixers thrashed Brisbane Heat by eight wickets in Steve Smith's Big Bash League return.
All eyes were on Sixers batsman Smith in his first BBL appearance for six years, while Heat batsman Marnus Labuschagne played his first match of the 2019-20 tournament after returning from Australia's ODI series in India.
Labuschagne made only three as the Heat were restricted to 126-8, with runs hard to come by on a slow Gabba surface on Thursday.
Steve O'Keefe was named man of the match after taking 1-20 from his four overs, while Jackson Bird, Tom Curran and Ben Dwarshuis took two wickets apiece.
The Sixers eased to their target with 25 balls to spare, Vince making a stylish 51 off 37 balls and fellow opener Philippe an unbeaten 52 from 43.
Smith fell for only nine, but the Sixers were all-but home by then as they moved above Adelaide Strikers into second spot in the battle to face Melbourne Stars in the first Qualifier at the MCG.
The Heat have now lost three in a row and are just outside the play-off spots with two games to play.
STRUGGLING HEAT BATSMEN FAIL TO FIRE
O'Keefe stuck a big blow by removing Chris Lynn's off stump in the third over and the Heat were 33-2 in the fifth when Matt Renshaw was removed by Bird, having struck Nathan Lyon for six and four in the previous over.
Lyon had Sam Heazlett caught and bowled before Labuschagne was taken by Smith attempting to pull Curran, with the Heat slumping to 57-5 halfway through their innings.
James Pattinson made a brisk 27 not out from 15 balls after AB de Villiers (25) was caught by Smith in the deep, but the Sixers bowlers did a great job of restricting the Heat to a below-par total.
VINCE PROMOTION PAYS OFF
England batsman Vince was promoted to open with Philippe, Daniel Hughes dropping down the order.
He made the most of his opportunity at the top of the order, full of confidence after making an unbeaten 41 in a victory over the Melbourne Stars last time out.
Vince showed his class with glorious strokes on both sides of the wicket, coming down the track to launch Mujeeb Ur Rahman into the stands and reaching his half-century off 34 balls with a classy drive over cover before pulling Ben Laughlin to Heazlett.
PHILIPPE RETURNS TO FORM, SMITH MISSES OUT
Wicketkeeper batsman Philippe had mustered only 32 in his previous five knocks, but returned to form in batting conditions that were not straightforward.
Vince comfortably outscored Philippe in a stand of 75, but the 22-year-old clattered Laughlin for 10 off two balls as the Sixers closed in on an emphatic victory.
Pattinson followed Smith and had his Australia team-mate caught behind when he moved outside leg stump attempting an expansive drive, but Philippe brought up his half-century before Moises Henriques put the Heat out of their misery.