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Arthur wrestles with selection dilemma

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."

If Iftikhar was to come in for his Test debut it would be Hafeez who would likely make way after his twin failures at Edgbaston, completed with an horrendous shot in the second innings when he pulled to long leg. That would probably entail Azhar Ali being promoted to open alongside Sami Aslam.

Arthur even floated the notion of a fifth specialist bowler, calling it the "very positive option", but it is hard to see that happening with the length of tail Pakistan already have and which England exploited twice at Edgbaston.

"It's certainly one of the options, but whoever comes in somebody has got to bat middle order, which makes it a particularly long tail," he said. "That's a very positive way to go. It's one that we've thought about and one I lay in bed thinking about it last night. That's a very positive option because we've got to get 20 wickets in this Test match. We've got to work through that one."

One of the key reasons that Pakistan's attack has been under pressure is that England have countered Yasir Shah impressively since Lord's. In the last two Tests he has combined figures of 4 for 502 having claimed 10 for 141 in the opening Test.

After a difficult Old Trafford outing, Yasir performed an impressive holding role in the first innings at Edgbaston - sending down 25 unchanged - but in England's second innings was taken for 172 off 43 overs, showing as much weariness as the quick bowlers by the end.

"They have played the legspinner very well but we have to remember he's been used in a defensive role," Arthur said. "We bowled first at Edgbaston, there wasn't a hell of a lot on offer, and at Old Trafford so he hasn't had the luxury of bowling with runs on the board.

"I'm hoping we can get runs on board here, it turns a bit and there's a bit of bounce - and that's a legspinner's best friend. I actually think he's bowled extremely well in both roles - attacking and defending."

If Pakistan are to level the series at The Oval - a ground where they have not authentically lost since 1967; they were in control of the controversial 2006 Test - they will need a key performance from Yasir, but their cause would also be helped by runs from Younis Khan.

Younis has had a poor series with 122 runs in six knocks, his innings typified by extravagant movements around the crease which have twice played a part in him being caught down the leg side.

As the Pakistan squad were given a quiet day of light training on Tuesday, Younis had an extended net on the square receiving throwdowns from Grant Flower.

"I'm very confident he can make a contribution," Arthur said. "He's been very open to us speaking about some technical things, he has trained the house down and the hunger is there. I've been really impressed with how he's handled it.

"Watching him train and go about his business, he still tops the fitness charts, he's one of the fittest in the team, his diet is exemplary. He's so professional on and off the field. Put it this way, he's giving himself the best chance to perform and I'll take my hat off to chap like that any day of the week."