A masterful century from marquee signing Steve Smith has lifted the Sydney Sixers to the top of the BBL ladder following a 59-run win over the Adelaide Strikers in Coffs Harbour.
In his second game back from a three-year BBL hiatus, Smith (101 from 56 deliveries) equalled his highest score in T20 cricket and joined forces with Kurtis Patterson (43) to forge the largest partnership of the BBL summer after the Sixers were sent in on Tuesday night.
The ton, the first ever by a Sydney Sixers batsman, continued a blustering summer at the crease for Smith that also yielded an unbeaten 200 against the West Indies and a century against South Africa.
Smith's innings, the equal-best of the BBL summer, came to an end when he scrapped plans to sneak a second run but slipped as he turned back to his crease, only to be run out by Matt Short.
"I was pretty much going to try and hit every ball for six from there on, when I got out," Smith told Fox.
"That happens. It was a good total and the boys defended it really nicely.
"It's been nice to be back."
On a batter-friendly deck, the Sixers still had some work to do to defend their total of 5-203.
But called in to replace Nathan Lyon (knee soreness), India-bound spinner Todd Murphy had a hand in three quick wickets and finished with the best figures of his young BBL career (3-35) to make the equation easier.
Ben Dwarshuis (3-28) bowled Alex Carey on 54 to put the final nail in the coffin.
The loss means the Strikers desperately need to defeat the second-placed Perth Scorchers this Friday to keep their finals hopes alive.
The Strikers missed three early chances to dismiss Smith. Most notably, the ball rolled slowly from Smith's bat onto the stumps but failed to dislodge the bails, so the former Test captain survived.
Smith then went into overdrive, kickstarting his innings with consecutive boundaries off Wes Agar and bringing his half-century up with a four past deep point.
For the longest time told he was unsuited to the shortest format, Smith looked comfortable at the crease and with opening the batting - something he has never done at T20I level.
With the last ball before the drinks break, Smith equalled his previous BBL high-score of 66 and then became the third man this summer to hit a BBL century with a six over deep backward square leg.
The Sixers lost Smith, Patterson and captain Moises Henriques in the space of six balls but a late cameo from Jordan Silk (31 not out) ensured the total would finish as an imposing one.
With no Chris Lynn, Short designated himself chief agitator after Test firebrand Travis Head was caught by Sixers wicketkeeper Josh Philippe for five.
But he slogged Murphy to deep square leg where he was caught by Patterson on 40, leaving the Strikers in search of another leader.
They found one in Carey, who kept the Strikers ticking along after the quick losses of Adam Hose (caught off Murphy's bowling) and Colin de Grandhomme (run out by Smith during the same over as Hose went).
Carey made the most of the short boundaries to reach a half-century in his second game back from Test duty before Dwarshuis' yorker crashed into his stumps. The Strikers were all out for 144 in the 19th over.
"I was really happy with the bowling performance because it was a very good batting wicket. I thought we were really clinical," Henriques told Fox.
Lyon is expected to be available to face the Sydney Thunder this Saturday, with the Sixers telling AAP he was rested as a precaution ahead of the upcoming India tour.