An enigmatic smile is usually a cricketer’s non-committal answer to a difficult query, but more often than not, cameramen furiously click in tandem and one lucky fellow (or maiden) captures the expression that says it all.

On the cusp of what may be his final Test series in the UAE, Pakistan captain MisbahUlHaq was in a positive frame of mind until tragedy struck in the form of leg spinner Yasir Shah’s back spasm. One fortunate photographer did get a shot of the latter hobbling off the field, his earlier beaming demeanor replaced by a painful grimace. With everyone thinking that England would now have the advantage, veteran journalist Qamar Ahmed asked Misbah the million-dollar question ‘Do you think you are the favourites?’ Misbah’s wry smile revealed nothing but gave away plenty on the turmoil inside.

News of England seam bowler Steve Finn’s injury seemed to balance things out, so a few minutes later when pace bowler James Anderson fell during football, there was a hushed silence all around. Cameras whirred but even with the entire England squad and conditioning coaches out on the field, a large press contingent, ball boys and a few hapless onlookers, one could hear a pin drop. The smiles disappeared. When Anderson finally got up, one could almost hear the collective sigh of relief. Photographers duly clicked the grins all around.

Proving true to his word, all-rounder Shoaib Malik scored a century on his return to Test cricket. During the press chat the previous day, ARY News asked if hewould want the Test captaincy after Misbah’s retirement. His answer was diplomatic ‘I need to focus on scoring runs,’ but with the smile reaching his eyes, the media can be forgiven for describing him as positively ambitious.

Fawad Alam is not a new face around these parts but his dapper, new hairstyle is making him look slimmer and therefore more athletic. When complimented on his funky cut, his reaction was that he was thankful to finally receive a compliment from the media. Theglow radiating from his face indicated that he has found the ultimate barber but will not be revealing his much-in-demand location.

Pakistan’s now highest run-scoring Test batsman, Younis Khan, having reached this record in only his 101th Test, has the humblest smile of all. Reacting to cheers from the hard-working crowd who had made the effort to travel to the stadium, he acknowledged their support with all the grace he is renowned for.

But the most heartfelt smile was from respected journalist Qamar Ahmed. When asked who the favorites are, he replied ‘Pakistan are my favorites for the series.’

The subsequent twinkle in his eye, suggests that he knows something the rest of us do not.