In his first match since taking on the role full-time following Eoin Morgan’s international retirement, Buttler was castled for a golden duck as England were all out for 148 in 19.3 overs to lose by 50 runs.
After Bhuvneshwar Kumar’s devilish inswinger beat the inside edge, clipped Buttler’s pad and lit up the zing bails, Hardik Pandya took four for 33, leaving India 1-0 ahead in the three-match series.
Buttler was taken aback by the lavish swing on offer for India’s bowlers, admitting England might have done more to disrupt their rhythm, but he remains upbeat heading into the second T20 on Saturday.
“To keep taking the game on,” Buttler said, when asked what his message is in defeat. “You try and play conditions where you’re looking for ways to put pressure back on the opposition.
“Whether that be running between the wickets or taking risks to try and get them off a length, we haven’t seen a ball consistently swing that much in the T20 game for a while.
“We probably needed to get one in the stands or something to get it to stop swinging!
“The messaging is always going to be the same, we’re always going to look to play positively, we got outplayed here but that’s fine. There’s a great opportunity in two days’ time to have another go.”
“It’s quite easy to come back from, to be honest. Nothing much changes for us just because we lost the game. We’ll turn up to Edgbaston full of confidence and look forward to playing our brand of cricket.”
Hardik top-scored with 51 from 33 balls but there were also brisk cameos from Rohit Sharma (24 off 14), Deepak Hooda (33 off 17) and Suryakumar Yadav (39 off 19) as India racked up 198 for eight.
Several England bowlers were expensive but Chris Jordan was particularly impressive with figures of two for 23 while Moeen Ali, on his 50th T20 international appearance, also took a couple of wickets.
While Jordan put a disappointing winter behind him, in which his death bowling came under scrutiny, and added an unbeaten 26 down the order, Moeen struck a couple of lusty blows in his 36 from 20 balls.
“CJ was absolutely brilliant,” Buttler added. “It was great to see a guy with a lot of experience and someone I have full faith in throwing the ball to come away with such brilliant figures in a high-scoring game.
“And Moeen’s an incredibly selfless cricketer, he’s played a lot of different roles for us in the team, he’s always willing to bowl any time and bat anywhere in the order so he’s a great guy to have in the group.
“They are experienced guys who are real leaders in the team and you’re always going to lean on them.”
England’s attempt to chase down the total under the Southampton lights would have been challenging enough but their bid was dealt a hammer blow by the early loss of Buttler, this year’s Indian Premier League most valuable player and top run-scorer.
Kumar had troubled Jason Roy with deliveries zipping past the outside edge but then showed his immense skill to bring one back in through Buttler’s gate, to the delight of Hardik, who capitalised by removing Dawid Malan and Liam Livingstone in the same over and also accounted for Roy and Sam Curran.
Hardik said: “It was a very big wicket. Everyone knows what Jos can do and he’s been someone who’s a match-winner on any given day that he decides.
“It took a special ball to get him because the field was set for an outswinger – there was no midwicket – and Bhuvi did what he does best, bluffing the batter, setting him up then delivering the ball which he did was fantastic.”