Shan Masood broke into the Pakistan Test team, seven seasons ago. However, the 30-year-old has so far managed to feature in just 21 fixtures. And those who have seen him since formative years believe that the opener took quite some time to ‘settle down’ at the highest level.
Thursday morning at the Old Trafford, however, turned out to be bright and sunny for Masood as he hammered 156 against England to become the sixth Pakistan batsman to score centuries in three consecutive innings – after Zaheer Abbas, Mudassar Nazar, Mohammad Yousuf, Younis Khan and Misbah-ul Haq.
He also became the second Pakistan opener to score three successive centuries after Nazar – who achieved the feat against India in 1983.
As records tumbled, Nazar was happy to see the promising talent finally come of age. “He was always a very talented player, coming through the ranks,” Nazar told Sportstar from Manchester on Thursday.
After quitting his job at the Pakistan National Cricket Academy a few months ago, Nazar has now moved to Manchester and stays ‘just a few kilometres’ away from the Old Trafford.
In an ideal world, he would have been to the ground to watch his former wards take on England. But Nazar had to watch Masood’s classy innings on television. “I remember the time when he came into the U-19 team, I was with him and then in the A team subsequently,” Nazar said.
– Promising start –
After a promising start in 2013, Masood lost the plot midway following a string of inconsistent performances. “In his Test career, he was dropped and he went to the UAE a couple of years ago and that’s where he started changing,” Nazar said, adding that games against England A helped him fight back. In 2016, Masood had a nightmarish outing against England, where he could score 71 runs in four innings.
Many in the cricketing circles thought that Masood’s international career was over, but he returned to the team a year later and slowly cemented his place. Having stayed in England for five years and studied at Durham University, he played regular cricket in England and has a fair understanding of the conditions. And that, Nazar feels, has worked for him.
“He seems to be coming of age, becoming more organised. He has a couple of big scores and the confidence has gone up. He is backing himself and this has been a fantastic knock, although he has been lucky for a few times. The way he played against the seam bowler, it’s exemplary,” Nazar said.
Mudassar Nazar believes Shan Masood’s rich form can set the tone for Pakistan in the Test series against England. (File Photo) – PTI
The former Pakistan captain understands that it’s never easy for an opener to tackle the English conditions and now that he has got off to a cracking start, Nazar is confident that this will boost Masood’s confidence.
“The series is open for him. He can dominate the series, can give the team a great start and who knows this can be the starting point for the Pakistan team in this series and not just for him,” Nazar said.
“England bowling attack is considered to be one of the best in the world at the moment. They haven’t bowled as good as they did against the West Indies, but credit must be given to Pakistan batsmen, especially Masood,” he said, adding that batting freely has helped the batsman beat the odds.
It has been a good second day for the touring side – which is currently in the driver’s seat. With three more days to go, Nazar hopes Pakistan starts the series on a positive note. Masood’s gritty knock has certainly given hope.