Mickey Arthur, the Pakistan coach, has admitted having sleepless nights pondering the balance of the side for the final Test against England as they search for a series-levelling victory.
Having been in control at Edgbaston, and holding a realistic chance of coming to The Oval 2-1 up themselves, they now have to dig deep into their resolve after a final-day collapse.
“There were a lot of good things for us out of the last Test. I certainly did not feel that we ever rolled over there,” Arthur said. “We were in the contest for most of that game. I’ve taken a lot of positives out of that and reinforced the positives with the chaps.”
“I counted we probably won five sessions, England won three. The sessions England won, they won convincingly.”
Before their demise over the last two sessions in Birmingham, Pakistan’s chances of winning had slipped away when the four-man attack tired on the fourth evening, allowing Jonny Bairstow and Moeen Ali to produce a game-changing partnership of 152 in 29 overs.
“I said to the boys, we were probably one wicket away there from breaking through,” Arthur said. “If we could have knocked Bairstow over or Moeen early, it certainly would have put a totally different perspective on the game.”
Pakistan’s lack of an allrounder in stark contrast to England has been a running theme throughout the series with Mohammad Hafeez’s inability to bowl being a major problem. There are no easy fixes to the problem, but Arthur hinted that Iftikhar Ahmed, who bowls offspin, could come into consideration.
“Yes, he is an option,” Arthur said. “He bowls offspin and decently, England have a lot of left handers so he does give us an option as a fifth bowler if he comes in. But we have to be dead certain he can come into our top six and get runs, because we’ll be asking for runs first and bowling second.”