NOTTINGHAM, England _ Well, that certainly wasn’t in the script for England.
Playing on their favourite batting track against an opponent seemingly in disarray, England’s players weren’t supposed to be receiving their first bloody nose at the Cricket World Cup on Monday.
They even won the toss and put Pakistan into bat, apparently safe in the knowledge that they had not failed in a chase in a home ODI in nearly four years.
England hadn’t counted on a number of factors in its 14-run loss at Trent Bridge, though.
Firstly, some atrocious fielding, which began in the first over with captain Eoin Morgan letting the ball slip through his grasp as he slid to prevent a single.
England produced an immaculate display in the field in the win over South Africa on the opening day of the World Cup, yet, four days on, Jason Roy was dropping a simple catch and missing a simple run-out opportunity, Joe Root was throwing a boundary in overthrows, and James Vince was spilling a simple pick-up on the boundary to allow an extra single.
There was another early failure in the top order while up against spin at the start of the innings. Against South Africa, it was Jonny Bairstow getting removed by Imran Tahir for a golden duck and here it was Jason Roy missing a sweep and getting caught lbw by Shadab Khan.
England had better get used to it: More teams will surely eschew pace in favour of spin against the openers.
Then there were a few more signs to suggest the English just weren’t so comfortable in the heat of tournament battle.
Roy jabbering away after his early dismissal. Century-makers Root and Jos Buttler regularly stopping play to speak to the umpires about the condition of the ball. Jofra Archer, the new star of England’s pace attack, losing his composure and going for 0-79, his last ball getting smashed for six.
Narrowly failing in what would have been a record chase in a Cricket World Cup match shouldn’t lead to England pressing the panic button. And no team was seriously expected to go the whole group phase unbeaten, not even this top-ranked England team.
But this sloppier-than-usual performance might deliver a well-timed jolt, though.
“The beauty of this format is that I do believe the best four teams over the tournament will qualify for the semifinals and we’ve got to make sure we play some good cricket in our remaining games,” said Root, who hit 107 for the first century of this World Cup.
“One thing this side doesn’t do very often is to make the same mistake twice, and I’m sure the guys will make sure it’s a very different performance against Bangladesh (at Cardiff on Saturday).”
One thing Morgan will expect is an improvement in the fielding, something he put down to a bad attitude.
“I don’t think it was that bad a day, but fielding-wise it was,” Morgan said.
“We’ve gone from one of our best performances (against South Africa) to not extremely bad but one that has cost us maybe 20 runs and that is a lot in one-day cricket. Fielding is an attitude thing. It’s a matter of taking our stand-off attitude today and getting it back to our positive attitude where we go for everything and create that fearless nature.”
The main message Root wanted to convey was that England will not get too down.
“The most important thing now for us as a group is not to panic,” he said. “We know what works for us as a formula, and as a team, but other sides are allowed to play well and we’ve got to make sure we learn quickly and bounce back at Cardiff.
“The temptation is to get a little bit tense, but one of our great strengths as a side is sticking to the way we go about things and be as smart as possible.”