For all those who doubted Pakistan's ability to bounce back from an embarrassing defeat have not followed the team's fortunes over the past three decades. The most mercurial side in the international cricket arena, the men in green once again proved that no matter how badly they may have done in their previous game, they can never be taken lightly.
England, the hosts and the favourites have suffered a defeat which will disappoint them but could also be a blessing in disguise. As good as they are, Eoin Morgan's side couldn't have expected to go through a tournament with this format without losing at least one game. The fact that the loss came this early might be a good thing. It also means that the hosts have received a wake-up call very early in the tournament that they can take important lessons from.
But as far as this match was concerned, the reasons for this result were many. We can identify the 5 most important. Let's look at them.
Law of averages catching up with England
In the bilateral series between these two teams played just before the World Cup, England chased down scores of 340 or more three times in a row. Even a side as good as England of today can't continue to do that over and over again. So, it's time for the English bowlers to improve their efforts so that their batsmen don't always have to pull off a record chase.
Pakistan's negation of Adil Rashid
In modern-day ODI cricket, getting wickets in the middle overs is most important. England have been able to do that thanks to their efficient leg-spinner Adil Rashid. But Pakistan dominated Rashid and didn't give him any wickets. As a result, the middle overs saw the Asian team coasting along at a good rate which set the stage for a big score. The absence of Liam Plunkett, who is also known for getting wickets in the middle overs, might have also worked against the English side.
The reason why Eoin Morgan chose to bowl first was due to Pakistan's decimation by West Indies in their first match of the tournament. By bringing in Mark Wood, a bowler able to bowl at high speeds, Morgan though he would be able to roll over Pakistan cheaply just as the Windies did. But while the Caribbean side had the aid of overcast conditions, the skies remained clear during this match. This meant batting first was not a difficult proposition and the Pakistan batsmen, who had scored heavily in the bilateral series before the World Cup, were never in much discomfort.
Improved Pakistan attack
Pakistan had suffered two heavy series losses before the World Cup and had repeatedly failed to defend large targets against England. But the bowling line-up for the World Cup has couple of players who weren't part of those miserable experiences. Shadab Khan's return and Wahab Riaz's comeback greatly helped Sarfaraz Ahmed's side. Wahab once again showed his wicket taking prowess while Shadab's bowling again reflected the promise he has shown since 2016.
Pressure of the World Cup
England have been preparing for this World Cup for nearly the last four years. Their progress has gone according to plan except for the loss in the 2017 Champions Trophy semis. But now that the big event is here, there may be a weight of pressure on this team. They have made a habit of chasing big scores with ease, but doing so in a World Cup is a completely different matter. The added pressure of the occasion may have troubled them as well.