Josh Philippe in action. (Photo: Phil Hillyard)

Reigning Big Bash champions the Sydney Sixers hosted an injury-riddled Melbourne Stars outfit, seeking damage limitation with injuries to key players.

The Melbourne Stars were dealt a massive blow before the first ball was bowled on Sunday night, when star opener Marcus Stoinis was ruled out due to a side strain minutes before the first ball.

The Sydney Sixers would go on to dominate the game from start to finish, and never gave Melbourne a chance to get going.

Josh Philippe proved his worth with the bat from the early stages, notching an impressive 83 off 47 balls, whilst captain Moises Henriques contributed a noteworthy 76 off 38 balls and remained not out.

The Sixers posted an SCG Big Bash and club record of 213 for the Stars to chase down. Steve O’Keefe then notched career best figures of 4/14, rattling through both ends of the Stars batting line-up.

The Stars were well below par on Sunday night, posting a franchise low 61 and losing by a Big Bash record 152 runs. The Sixers made a statement to the rest of the league, proving they are once again amongst the best in the Big Bash

As it happened

After a slow first two overs, the opening pair of James Vince and Josh Philippe started where they left off last season, forcing fielding changes and finding the boundary with ease.

The defending Player of the Tournament, Philippe proved why he’s the favourite to retain his crown, leaving the Stars scratching their heads at his world-class display.

Vince gifted the Stars an opportunity to break up the lethal opening pair when he sent his shot straight up in the air.

Fortunately for the Sixers, Peter Nevill dropped a sitter and was left to ponder as Vince and Philippe made them pay, piling the runs on Brody Couch.

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With the Sixers nearing a century without a loss of wicket, Stars captain Glenn Maxwell threw himself into the action.

The skipper made his presence felt, taking the crucial first wicket and breaking up the opening partnership with the dismissal of Vince.

With the game already firmly in their control, the Sixers took their Power Surge at the start of the 13th over.

Philippe wasted no time and hit an early contender for biggest six of the tournament, smashing the ball 101 metres onto the roof of the Members’ Pavilion at the SCG.

He added more agony to Sam Rainbird’s horrid over, smashing another six and leaving him with 22 runs off the over.

Sydney finished off the two overs with figures of 0/33 as Philippe closed in on a century.

Sixers captain Moises Henriques comfortably cruised his way to a half-century, bringing up 50 in the most appropriate way – smashing a six straight down the ground.

The Stars finally struck as Rainbird got his revenge on Philippe, taking his wicket for 83, although it was too little too late as the damage had already been done.

Couch struck late with consolation wickets of Dan Christian and Tom Curran for a golden duck.

The Sixers dominated and set the visitors with the difficult task of chasing down a huge 214 total.

The Stars couldn’t have had a worse start with the bat, as Steve O’Keefe took two massive wickets in his opening over, dismissing Joe Clark and Nick Larkin to leave the Stars 2/4 after the first over.

Glenn Maxwell was bowled by Sean Abbott two overs later as the top order began to collapse, making the already difficult run chase seemingly impossible.

The partnership of Hilton Cartwright and Peter Nevill looked to steady the ship for the Stars, before both were dismissed in consecutive balls, killing off any small chance the visitors had of a miracle win.

Sean Abbott rattled through the tail end of the Stars, taking the wickets of Rainbird and Beau Webster.

After an outstanding opening spell, O’Keefe kept the heat up with two consecutive wickets and found himself with the chance to send the Stars home with a franchise record low score total.

O’Keefe wrapped up his career-best spell, allowing Tom Curran to open his Big Bash account by taking the final wicket.

The reaction

Maxwell remained positive considering how depleted his side was, however was still disappointed at the end result.

“We lost by 152 runs, it wasn’t a great night, I thought we actually did well with an inexperienced bowling line-up,” Maxwell said.

“We’ve got a lot of injuries and a lot of guys yet to turn up. It’s been a hard start and with ‘Stoin’ getting injured it’s put us behind for where would like to be for round one,

“But you can’t win the tournament from round one so we’ll put that behind us and move to round two.”

The Stars captain remained confident that Stoinis would return next week, and suggested that the injury has been lingering from the T20 World Cup.

“Our batting group missed a massive opportunity to get themselves into the tournament and get some runs under their belt, but they’re a superstar side the Sixers and we probably needed all our stars to take them on,” Maxwell said.

Named player of the match, Josh Philippe was impressed with his side’s display and noted that his confidence is at all-time high.

“I felt like it’s the best form I’ve had heading into a BBL and I’ve been pretty confident, so it’s nice to get a few runs to start,” Philippe said.

“As a kid I always wanted to play for Australia and it’s still no different now, I want to do as best as I can to try get back and play for Australia.

“I’m not sure what it is, but we [James Vince and Philippe] certainly love batting with each other and we seem to put on some good partnerships, he’s a very cool head and we seem to work well together.”

Philippe acknowledged his monster six saying “it was the biggest six I’ve ever hit in my life”.

The Sixers now move their focus to a trip to Hobart to face the Hurricanes on Wednesday, and could be without Dan Christian and Sean Abbott as they both await the births of their respective children.

The Stars will regroup and get ready for a clash with the Sydney Thunder in five days time.

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