DUBAI, Apr 25 – Andrew Symonds starred in Australia's much improved performance with both bat and ball as they beat Pakistan by six wickets in the second day-night international here on Friday.The 33-year-old, on the comeback trail after being dropped for indiscipline, took two wickets in an over to help Australia restrict Pakistan to 207 before scoring 58 to anchor the run-chase at the packed Dubai Stadium.
The victory helped Australia level the five-match series 1-1 after Pakistan won the first match by four wickets on Wednesday.
As expected, Australia came back strongly keeping a tight line and length before keeping their cool while chasing a modest 4.16 run-per-over target, avoiding the traps they fell into against Pakistan’s spinners in the first game.
"We did well to keep them to 207 and when we came out to bat it was cool to get those runs without any hiccups," said Michael Clarke, standing in for regular skipper Ricky Ponting in this series.
Pakistani captain Younus Khan said his fears about Australia had been confirmed.
"We knew that Australia would come down hard on us, they were our fears. We were 30 runs short and they did well when they batted," he said.
Symonds built on the platform set by opener James Hopes (48) and Shane Watson (30) who put on 77 for the second wicket. Australia had lost Brad Haddin for eight in the fourth over.
Spinners Shahid Afridi, who took a career best 6-38 in the first match, and Saeed Ajmal raised hopes of a Pakistan victory by dismissing Watson and Hopes in successive overs but Symonds and Clarke sealed the match.
Symonds, whose last one-day series was against the West Indies in July last year, added 90 for the fourth wicket with his skipper, hitting four boundaries and a six during his 30th one-day fifty.
With just 25 needed, Symonds was bowled by Afridi but Clarke (39 not out) and Callum Ferguson (ten not out) achieved the target.
Earlier, Pakistan struggled for runs as off-spinner Nathan Hauritz chipped in with 3-41, while Hopes and Symonds took two wickets apiece to keep a check on Pakistan who batted first after winning the toss.
Opener Salman Butt top-scored with a resolute 57 while Afridi hit a 40-ball 41. In the final overs, Shoaib Akhtar hit four boundaries and a six during a fiery 14-ball 25 to get Pakistan past the 200-run mark.
Pakistan lost debutant opener Ahmed Shahzad (four) in the third over before Butt added 53 for the second wicket with skipper Younus Khan, who made 28.
Hauritz derailed Pakistan by dismissing Shoaib Malik (seven) and Misbah-ul-Haq (12) in quick succession before removing a dangerous-looking Butt in the 34th over.
Butt hit six boundaries during his snail-paced 112-ball knock.
Hauritz could have had a fourth wicket had Ben Laughlin held on to a high catch from Afridi when the batsman was on only three.
Afridi fully capitalised on the chance and hit five boundaries and a six.
Symonds removed Akhtar and Umar Gul (ten) in one over as Pakistan lost their last three wickets for just one run.
The remaining three one-day matches will be played in Abu Dhabi on April 27, May 1 and 3. The only Twenty20 is scheduled for Dubai on May 7.