Pressure is a privilege and we are all relishing it: Buttler
Jos Buttler has dismissed the idea that England are losing their cool in the heat of the World Cup campaign, insisting "pressure is a privilege".
Three defeats from their first seven group games have left the home side's semi-final prospects hanging in the balance ahead of tomorrow's Egbaston clash against an India team who have just replaced them on top of the world rankings.
If that was not enough to nudge tensions towards fever pitch, opening batsman Jonny Bairstow found himself embroiled in a terse exchange with former England captain and fellow Yorkshireman Michael Vaughan.
He was one of several media pundits who offered scathing critiques after the Lord's loss to Australia, leading Bairstow to claim there was an agenda against the team and a will to see them stumble.
Vaughan refuted that suggestion in no uncertain terms in messages posted via Twitter and Instagram and cited Bairstow's "negative, pathetic mindset" in response.
Geoffrey Boycott later tweeted that Bairstow was "making excuses" and added: "You got us in a tight corner, now get us out of it!"
"It's just typical Yorkies," Buttler said with a smile when asked about the sideshow.
"As a player, when Jonny seems to have a point to prove he performs outstandingly well. I don't think that's quite the case (here) but I don't know enough about what was said to really have an opinion.
"The mood in the camp is still very good. Naturally there's some external pressure - it would be naive to say we've got our blinkers on and we're not aware of things that are going on outside. I think we just have to accept those things as what happens during tournament cricket."
Buttler's own views about the support levels that the team experience clearly diverge from his team-mate's sentiments, though, having been roared on from the roadside by some enthusiastic fans recently.
He added: "I was in London walking down the street with my wife and I was saying, 'I don't know how big the World Cup has been, I don't know what I was expecting' and as I said that a couple of guys drove past and shouted good luck.
"She said, 'You've just answered your own question'. Walking down the street, people wishing you well, that's a good sign for me. I think it's been great from the country."
Having attempted to draw the sting from that issue, Buttler made no attempt to downplay the importance of their next game. Instead, he revelled in the elevated stakes.
"It's a massive occasion," he said. "You talk about pressures, external pressures, well pressure is a privilege sometimes. We're in a very privileged position to be in this situation.
"These are the games you look back on, or at the start of your career that you hope you're part of. It's going to be a great occasion. We know the support India will get. We hope we get great support too and it's a great game."
Bairstow's first-choice opening partner Jason Roy enjoyed a long and seemingly pain-free net yesterday and looks increasingly likely to return to the XI after three games out with a torn hamstring.
He has been much missed and, considering James Vince's struggles, may play even if he falls short of 100% fitness.
Leading wicket-taker Jofra Archer could be a bigger concern. The paceman has been experiencing tightness in his left side and underwent a light training session, completing sprints and throwing drills but not appearing in the nets.
"He's a pretty relaxed guy and sometimes doesn't bowl," said Buttler, perhaps optimistically. "The medical team will be seeing how he goes. He's working hard and they'll be keeping a close eye on him."
Meanwhile, South Africa veterans Hashim Amla and Faf du Plessis dented Sri Lanka's hopes of pipping England to a World Cup semi-final spot at Chester-le-Street.
Victory for Sri Lanka would have moved them level on points with the tournament hosts, but they lost wickets at regular intervals, a number of their batsmen bogged down on a slow pitch as they posted 203 all out.
The paltry target provided few problems for Amla (80 not out) and Du Plessis (96no) in a 175-run partnership which carried the Proteas, already eliminated, to a nine-wicket win.
The duo, with more than 300 one-day international appearances between them, overhauled the total with 12.4 overs to spare.
And Haris Sohail says Pakistan have been closely studying World Cup strugglers Afghanistan in order to avoid another shock defeat.
Pakistan can climb into the top four of the table and boost their semi-final hopes with victory at Headingley today.
Eliminated Afghanistan have lost all seven of their matches but managed to upset their near neighbours in a warm-up fixture.
Haris is keen to prevent a repeat of that surprise three-wicket defeat on May 24 in Bristol.
"We have kept it very simple. We are taking the World Cup match-by-match," said Haris.
"They have quality spinners and we have seen a lot of videos to try and work out their variations.
"We lost to Afghanistan in a warm-up - they played very good cricket that day. We hope to play better cricket and win."