Shan Masood was sitting next to Misbah-ul-Haq in the dressing room at the P Sara Oval. It was the third day of the second Test and out in the middle, Ahmed Shehzad and Azhar Ali were battling to salvage the mess they had contributed to in the first innings, one that would eventually cost Pakistan the Test.
Masood was caressing the bruises that so many young Pakistan batsmen suffer early in their careers. He was out of the Test XI, having been dropped three Tests after a 75 on debut against South Africa. But he had worked his way closer, scoring runs in Sri Lanka on an A tour just before this series and then in the warm-up game before the Tests. He had changed his game, become more expansive, and felt he was hitting the ball better than ever.
And now here he was, on the inside but still far enough outside to require looking in. Two Tests were gone and this could easily become another series he missed altogether, and what was worse was that he wasn’t actually playing at all, and thus not cashing in on some good form. And next to him was sitting the man who would have played a big part in the decision that was eating away at him.
Misbah asked him how old he was.
“You know what I was doing when I was 25?” Masood recalls Misbah saying. “I was graduating out of college and I hadn’t played first-class cricket. I started playing for Pakistan when I was 27. I played in Sharjah, got out on a flat wicket to Brett Lee and Andy Bichel. You’ve already started your career, have 4000 runs at first-class level, made your debut against the world No. 1 side, you scored 75 there, what are you worrying about? You have your best years ahead of you. What are you worried about?”