Arthur considering Iftikhar Oval debut


Pakistan coach Mickey Arthur is mulling over handing a Test debut to Iftikhar Ahmed in the final match of the series against England.

Arthur revealed on Tuesday that Iftikhar could get his first opportunity in the longest format at The Oval, with Mohammad Hafeez under pressure due to a lack or runs at the top of the order.

There has been talk of Azhar Ali being promoted to open at the expense of Hafeez and South African Arthur is considering his options as the tourists target a victory that would earn them a 2-2 draw in what has been a pulsating series.

Asked about Iftikhar's chances of being selected, Arthur said: "Yes, he is an option. He bowls off spin 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."

Arthur is also not ruling out selecting a fifth specialist bowler in London on Thursday.

He added: "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.

"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."

Younis Khan has failed to make a solitary half-century during the series, but Arthur has faith in the veteran batsman.

"I'm very confident he can make a contribution," said the former South Africa and Australia coach.

"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 chaps like that any day of the week."