As Misbah-ul-Haq and Khurram Shahzad walked towards the pavilion with bad light forcing end of the first day's play, they were greeted by a happy and content Mohammad Hafeez, their captain, and a smile wide enough to be mistaken for a toothpaste advert.
The reason behind the smile was a solid Sui Northern Gas Pipelines Limited (SNGPL) performance with the bat, reaching 203 for 4 at close, after being put in under overcast conditions with the ball darting around. Barring the morning nervousness and the loss of two early wickets - with Hafeez blaming the batsmen for losing their wickets and no credit to the bowlers - it was a job well done, right down to the plan as the captain put it later on.
"Obviously we would've loved to bowl first in those conditions but losing the toss, we reverted to plan B which was to see off the new ball and bat out the entire day," Hafeez told Mag4you.com. "Although we lost those two early wickets, the scorecard at the end of the day shows a healthy total with six wickets remaining. We have our two best batsmen at the crease and if you take the swing and seam, together with the opposition's bowling attack into account, we have done splendidly well."
With cloudy weather, rain even, forecast for the next few days, the PCB has opted to keep an extra day providing the stipulated overs are not bowled on the first five days. However, even if the sixth day is washed out, the winners will be decided on first-innings lead. Thus, a healthy score, according to Hafeez, is of utmost importance.
"We have a very good batting line-up and our batsmen have been scoring very heavily in the tournament. With that in mind, I'm sure we can knit up a few partnerships tomorrow and reach a total in excess of 400. Since much depends on first-innings score now, the more we score in the first innings, the bigger the pressure we will create on the opposition. Also, with the four seamers we have included in our line-up, I'm sure 400 will be an enough total to defend on this track."
Although Misbah stole the limelight with his cracking drives later on in the day - with Younis Khan's breathtaking catches coming a close second - Hafeez still remained his team's highest-scorer with a patient 69. Having scored centuries in his last three matches, Hafeez was all set for a fourth one - with the national selectors watching closely - until Younis' magic palm made him head back to the dressing room.
"I'm quite satisfied with my performance. It wasn't the ideal batting track or the most batsmen-friendly conditions. But, as a professional, you have to adjust to the conditions straight away. You need to play the balls on merit, punishing the loose ones but giving due respect to the good balls.
"I knew the selectors were watching. I have been scoring heavily in the domestic season this year and definitely want to be back in the Pakistan team. Hopefully, this innings, and the three it followed [after], will make the selectors realise how good a touch I am in."