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England will have to show lot of character and resilience from here on: Jos Buttler

New Delhi: England will have to play some of their ‘best cricket’ to come out of the hole they find themselves in following their shock defeat to Afghanistan in the ODI World Cup.

England suffered a shock 69-run defeat to the Hashmatullah Shahidi-led side with the defending champions faltering in their chase of the 285-run target at the Ferozeshah Kotla on Sunday.

The win was Afghanistan’s second-ever in a World Cup match and lifted them to sixth position on the points table behind England.

On whether it was premature to to say that England’s World Cup defence was under threat, Buttler, whose team is yet to face India, Australia and South Africa, said, “Yeah. As I mentioned just before, it’s not been the way we wanted to start the competition, but this is the situation we find ourselves in and we’re going to have to play some of our best cricket moving forward.”

The skipper said he had full faith in his team to pull through this crisis.

“Yeah, it’s a big setback obviously. Before the tournament starts you have a different idea of how the first three games would pan out. We’ve got to show a lot of character, a lot of resilience within the team and most of all a lot of belief. There was a lot of excellent players in there and we haven’t played well enough today but we must keep that belief,” said Buttler.

Afghanistan were helped on their way to their second-highest World Cup total by a fine 80-run innings from Rahmanullah Gurbaz at the start and a superb 28-run cameo by Mujeeb Ur Rahman in the final overs.

Afghanistan didn’t lose a wicket till they had crossed the century mark. England, on the other hand, were 91/4 at one stage.

Asked if he could pinpoint where things started going wrong for England, Buttler said, “No, we didn’t, no we started poorly, first ball of the game I missed one and it sort of set the tone for that first 10 overs, we didn’t hit the areas that we wanted to and credit to Gurbaz (80 runs) as he put us under a lot of pressure, played some good shots, but maybe a few too many easy boundaries in there.”

England’s aggressive style of batting, called ‘Bazball’, has come to epitomise their cricket in all there formats, more so in Tests under coach Brendon McCullum.

Asked if the team could not ‘execute properly’ the style he wanted it to play, Buttler said, “We always want to play positive and be aggressive and some days you don’t play as well as you want to. Though Afghanistan built good pressure on us, maybe the wicket didn’t play exactly how we thought it would play and maybe the dew didn’t come in as much as we thought as well.”

England have played their best cricket when their backs are to the wall of late, with the fight-back during the Ashes this year being fresh in the mind.

Asked if the two losses in three World Cup matches will sharpen the team’s focus a little bit more, Buttler added, “We’ve played some good cricket in all scenarios, whether we’ve been on top and frontrunners and fancied or whether we’ve had our backs against the wall.”

“It’s a position you find yourselves in, it’s not the position you wanted to be in three games ago but the character is excellent as I’ve mentioned, there’ll always be belief and we’ll dust ourselves down and go again.”

Ben Stokes’ fitness

England’s charismatic Test skipper Ben Stokes’s fitness has been a cause for concern as the all-rounder has not played in any of the three World Cup matches so far. He was seen doing sprints before the Afghanistan match but did not play.

“He wasn’t fit for this game (against Afghanistan), but we’ll see how he pulls up for the next one,” said Buttler.

(Published 16 October 2023, 06:40 IST)

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