The Nottinghamshire all-rounder top-scored with 57 runs from only 40 deliveries in Sunday’s first match but saw his side still come up 63 runs short.
“Obviously we were disappointed not to get a win on the board,” he said. “But the South were better than us on the day and they fully deserve to be one nil up at this stage.”
Mullaney, 31, is captaining the North in this three-match series, a huge accolade for one of the most consistent white ball performers around. Ahead of his first season in charge at Trent Bridge he is relishing the opportunity of showing what he can do on the representative stage but his side were heavily out-gunned under blue Barbados skies in the opener.
A century from Middlesex’s Nick Gubbins and fifties from Daniel Bell-Drummond and Delray Rawlins powered the South to a total of 347, the largest one-day score ever made on the ground.
“We’ve sat down as a group and the lads have and admitted we didn’t quite get it right with the new ball,” conceded Mullaney. “But you also have to give credit to them as well; I thought Bell-Drummond and Gubbins played really well.
We didn’t really get a hold on their innings and it was only down to Saqib Mahmood (who took five for 60) that we kept them under 350. I thought he was brilliant and it means we have now got to win the next two matches.”
Mullaney and Worcestershire’s Brett D’Oliveira shared a stand of 89 in just nine overs to give the chase some late-order impetus, a stand that gave the Nottinghamshire captain some food for thought.
“I think we noticed that we can put them under some real pressure and I think there’s a few cracks there if we do - but we have to put them under pressure for longer periods. I’m sure if we play to the best of our capabilities then we can get beat them on Wednesday and get back into the series.”
Sunday’s match clearly demonstrated that this is anything but a succession of routine pre-season friendlies, with both camps desperate for victory.
“Yes, there were a few good-natured chirps out there,” said Mullaney. “It was all in good humour though. Our coaches Paul Collingwood and Paul Franks have done an excellent job preparing us and getting us relaxed but we didn’t do it on the field on Sunday and now we have to bounce back. We need to win two games to win the series, so it’s effectively a semi-final and a final to come.”
Mullaney was due to be one of two Notts players in the North squad with Paul Coughlin, but the county’s new signing from Durham is now facing a lengthy absence after surgery on the shoulder he dislocated playing for the England Lions in Antigua earlier this month.