Cellophane
Mr Cellophane
Should have been my name
Mr Cellophane
'Cause you can look right through me
Walk right by me
And never know I'm there

The Pakistan travelling show is a billboard bursting with shiny headline acts: a chorus line of sexy quicks belting out their best swing numbers, a legspinner with more razzle dazzle than Catherine Zeta-Jones; Misbah-ul-Haq, the noble leading man with a stirring solo; Sarfraz Ahmed grabbing centre stage for a dashing cameo; and, of course, Younis Khan - mesmerising the audience with footwork that would have flabbergasted Bob Fosse himself.

Among the noisy and entertaining flamboyance it's easy to miss Asad Shafiq: Pakistan's Mr Cellophane, quietly accumulating runs in the wings with a purer technique than any of his flashier team-mates. Shafiq plays an unselfish role; coming in at No. 6, he often provides stability when Pakistan's batting crumbles and guides the tail with the authority of a batsman who, in many other teams, would be at three or four. If not for the longevity of Misbah and Younis, he almost certainly would fill one of those roles for Pakistan.

Shafiq is currently the 13th ranked Test batsman in the world. He is almost certainly the least famous in the top 20, despite playing 43 Tests over a period of nearly six years. He lives with his wife and two young daughters, and looks after his widowed mother, in Karachi. While others at his level have been endlessly profiled, their backstories told and retold, their personal lives treated as public property, he has remained refreshingly enigmatic.

"I'm not that person that I want to really go out and express myself as a celebrity," Shafiq tells ESPNcricinfo. "I just want to do things very simply and very quietly."

It was on the suburban back streets of Karachi that Shafiq simply and quietly began his cricketing journey. His mother was kept busy looking after ten children while his father worked at a cement factory. Shafiq, the youngest and smallest, would often be found with his friends and neighbours, pretending to be Sachin Tendulkar as he faced a taped-up tennis ball on the street outside his front door. He would bowl a few deliveries, too, the lightweight ball allowing him to bowl faster than his small frame would normally allow.

But it was while batting that he made people sit up and take notice. Enough to stand out as a 12-year-old and be invited to play against much older boys at the local cricket ground. Enough to be singled out to join Karachi's Jalaluddin academy.

"I started playing with the big boys in the ground," Shafiq says, "and then I found the love of cricket inside me. The love took me to my first trial of hard-ball cricket at the Under-19 regional academy in Karachi. That's how I found the love for the game and the start of my career."

Once cricket became a serious career path, Shafiq looked closer to home for inspiration, settling on the elegant and prolific Mohammad Yousuf as a role model.

"I watched Mohammad Yousuf when he scored 1000 runs and broke the world record for number of centuries in a calendar year," Shafiq says. "The way he was playing, especially in that year, it was amazing and I just can't forget his drives and his cuts. I really liked him after that."

Yousuf is now one of Shafiq's batting mentors, a group that also includes Javed Miandad and Rashid Latif. While his technique may be widely praised, Shafiq is on a never-ending perfectionist's quest to hone his already considerable skills.

"I'm always thinking about my batting and my front foot and my back foot and I always like to talk about it with Grant Flower, our batting coach," Shafiq says. "I discuss with him what I should do to get it better every time. What to do and what not to do. I want to sit with him and talk about my batting, about my stance, about my grip, about my head position."

"That was the team requirement [batting at No. 6] so I think whatever the team wants me to do, whatever role they want me to play, I really take it as a responsibility"

Shafiq's promotion to the national side in 2010 came with a demotion from his usual top-order batting position. He had never batted at No. 6 until his first Test but he has made more of his role there than most; his tally of eight Test centuries is the joint highest by a number six, a record he shares with Garry Sobers.

The best of those innings came during his first tour of South Africa, in 2013. On a hard and bouncy Newlands wicket, facing a fearsome pace attack boasting Dale Steyn, Vernon Philander and Morne Morkel, Shafiq and Younis combined for a 219-run partnership. It wasn't enough to win the match but it did give Shafiq the confidence that he has the skills to survive and score in any conditions, although he has yet to categorically prove that against England in this series.

There are certainly fewer opportunities to rack up big scores when primarily batting with the tail. But rather than being frustrated at the limitations it places on his batting, Shafiq relishes the responsibility of shepherding his team-mates in the lower order.

"That was the team requirement, so whatever the team wants me to do, whatever role they want me to play, I really take it as a responsibility," Shafiq says. "I want to do more with my batting at No. 6. It was difficult in the beginning because I'd never batted with the tail. It's very difficult, you have to give confidence to the tail, to the bowler who cannot bat like a batsman. You have to give them the belief that they can bat, that they can contribute because these contributions are the most hurtful to the opposition. They think they've got all the batsmen out and after that, if the partnership builds between me and a tailender, that's the most frustrating thing for the opposition."

With Misbah and Younis in the latter phase of their careers, when one - or both - of them eventually retires it will be a natural progression for Shafiq to move up the order. But while he has ambitions to bat higher, he is as patient for a promotion as he is at the crease.

His attitude is born of a deep respect for Misbah, which is hardly surprising. Shafiq made his debut in late 2010, the end of an annus horribilis that left Pakistan cricket's reputation in tatters. Shafiq was a key member of Generation Restoration.

"It was a difficult time but I would like to give credit to Misbah for that," he says. "He really took on the responsibility and showed the correct way and put his belief in every player. Whatever had gone on had gone. We had to move forward, we had to forget all the things we left behind. We needed to look forward every time and show the world that we were good cricketers who could play in any conditions and beat any team in the world. So that's the belief we carried from there and each and every day it got better and better. After that we rebuilt our reputation. Every player was good after that.

"When you go on any tour with the star on your chest, then it is your responsibility to take all of the things that belong to your country and that's my belief: I shouldn't do anything that would hurt my people back home, that would reflect anything negative on my country. That's a personal thing."

Shafiq's approach to batting is generally a conservative one; to be patient in spending time at the crease, to leave confidently and defend neatly while summing up the conditions. He was impressive in Pakistan's win at Lord's, with diligent scores of 73 and 49, but his dismissals at Old Trafford were frustrating: tempted into a loose drive to the man at backward point in the first innings he was then the last recognised batsman to fall as Pakistan tried to dig in defensively second time around, missing a straight delivery from James Anderson to be given out lbw on review.

Perhaps one answer for Shafiq and his team-mates can be found in push-ups; not the ones performed in celebration on the Lord's outfield but in the 300-400 they ground out every day of their boot camp in Abbottabad. Such resilience and stamina were missing from their batting in Manchester.

With the series levelled after a bruising defeat, Pakistan must now regroup and rebuild before Edgbaston. For a team whose top order is proving brittle, a record-breaking century from their No. 6 - a command performance from Mr Cellophane - would be most timely.

Melinda Farrell is a presenter with ESPNcricinfo