Jos Buttler falls short of a miracle but his genius is unmistakable

If England's position was hopeless when their fourth wicket fell against Pakistan at Trent Bridge, nobody told Jos Buttler.

And if the run-rate seemed to be out of control at times in England's chase, you wouldn't have known it by looking at Buttler. While Joe Root seemed incensed by Pakistan's fielders, while Moeen Ali thrashed around like a drowning man, while Sarfaraz Ahmed's troops started to fumble and falter with victory apparently within their grasp, Buttler looked the coolest man on the pitch.

To put England's task in context, no team had ever chased down more than 329 to win a World Cup match. More than that, with 25 overs remaining, England still required 201 and had lost four wickets. They had not managed more than 170 in the final 25 overs since the last World Cup. The mountain looked hopelessly huge.

And it kept growing. Take the period between the 32nd and 34th overs. With England's required run-rate already at 7.89 runs an over, Buttler and Root played out two overs from Hasan Ali and one from Shadab Khan than realised only 12 runs in total. Suddenly the required rate was 8.62 and, among the crowd at least, the tension was starting to grow.

But Buttler was calm. And suddenly you could understand why: he's calm because he knows he can do this.

He broke the deadlock with a drive carved, through use of those remarkable wrists, through point off Mohammad Amir. The next delivery was driven for another boundary over mid-off. When he noticed that Wahab Riaz, in the middle of a short-ball barrage, had brought his long leg squarer, Buttler moved across his stumps and flicked a boundary down to fine leg. He knows he has the strokes; he knows that he has the skills to make up for lost time. He knew that if he remained, he could win this game for England.

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There are some players who have the composure - the likes of Hashim Amla - and there are some players who have the strokes - like Glenn Maxwell. But there aren't too many that can combine both. Virat Kohli is one and Buttler is another. And if you are ever in a batting category with Kohli, well, you're doing all right, aren't you?

Like Kohli, Buttler's fitness is relevant. Despite having batted for 90 minutes, he (and Moeen) scampered 10 off the 44th over despite not managing a boundary. He doesn't just rely on the genius - the great eye, the bat speed or power - he understands it's necessary to sweat, too. And as a result, even bowlers' best deliveries can be hit for runs. He can fluster bowlers in a way few batsmen can manage.

It's not surprising that, with Buttler in their side, England have such a remarkable record chasing in recent times. Not since September 2015 had they been unsuccessful in an ODI run-chase at home and, in that period, Buttler has averaged 52.02 in ODI cricket at the strike-rate of 124.35. When England have been chasing at home, that average rises to 54.53. This was the fastest World Cup century by an England player - and the fifth-fastest of all time. It would be no surprise if Buttler did not beat his own record before the end of the tournament.

"The way he plays is a bit freakish," Root said afterwards. "He's got the ability to do things other guys can't do. He's a great person for me to bat with: I just try to give him as much strike as possible and let him go.

"When he strikes it like that, you can see bowlers tense up sometimes because they always feel they are under pressure. I feel like he's growing all the time as a player and getting better. It's a really good sign for the group that he's played the way he did."

In the end, he was simply asked to do too much. England's batsmen cannot keep bailing their bowlers out of trouble just as Newcastle United's strikers - in the Kevin Keegan era - couldn't keep compensating for the flaws in their side's defence.

England conceded 17 in misfields - a figure calculated on ESPNcricinfo's statistics - and 11 from wides in Pakistan's innings. Subtract those 28 runs - and the extra deliveries that ensued - and the run-chase looks a fair bit more manageable. It would be disrespectful to Pakistan to say it was the issue that defined the game - Pakistan deserve more credit than that - but England will know they made it far easier than they should have done. It is that thought that will bother them in the coming days.

England have something approaching a genius in their side with Buttler. But they can't keep asking him for miracles if they're going to progress to the latter stages of this World Cup.