Somehow, a 2-2 draw seemed a fitting result for a series that was so closely fought. That was the outcome after Australia's best all-round performance of the tour so far finished in a 30-run win, although the West Indies captain Darren Sammy did his best to carry the hosts home on his shoulders with a powerful 84 that gave his team unexpected hope. But in the end, Australia had more performers: half-centuries to David Warner, Shane Watson and Peter Forrest set up a big total of 281 for 9 and Brett Lee led a disciplined bowling display to wrap up the victory.
It left the series with a sense of symmetry: it began with an Australian win, then a West Indian victory, then a tie, then a West Indies win and ended as it started, with an Australian victory. It must also have left both teams unsatisfied, Australia at their inability to gel through the middle of the series and beat the No.8-ranked ODI side, and West Indies at missing a rare opportunity to secure a series win over Australia.
Sammy nearly got them there, though. He and Andre Russell came together at 118 for 7 but they didn't give up, and Sammy blasted sixes here, there and everywhere on his way to a 20-ball half-century, equalling his own West Indian record. Even after the departure of Russell, who was lbw on review to Xavier Doherty for 41, Sammy kept the West Indian dream alive until he was the last man out, caught at deep midwicket with 31 still needed from 17 balls.
Perhaps Sammy made a tactical error by sending Australia in, considering the strong West Indian victory batting first at the same venue two days ago. His bowlers were unable to pick up cheap top-order wickets and the hosts were always on the back foot, right from the first few boundaries struck by Warner and Watson in their 118-run partnership, their first century opening stand together.
The West Indies bowlers did what they could and prevented Australia from the 300-plus score that at one stage looked inevitable, but it was eight years since West Indies had chased down such a high target in an ODI and their task looked as tall as the Pitons that dominate St Lucia's landscape. When Lee struck in each of his first two overs, local shoulders slumped even more.
The St Lucian opener Johnson Charles fell for a fifth-ball duck when he top-edged an attempted pull and was caught and bowled by Lee, and West Indies were 5 for 2 when Marlon Samuels gloved behind in Lee's next over. The run-rate became almost non-existent as Adrian Barath and Darren Bravo tried to steady, but on 3 from 21 balls, Bravo edged behind off Clint McKay.
The wickets kept falling. Dwayne Bravo drove Watson to cover for 19 and Barath top-edged an attempted slog-sweep off Doherty for 42. That left a mountain of work for Kieron Pollard, who after a while lost his partner Carlton Baugh (13) to a catch at fine-leg that almost cost Australia their wicketkeeper, as Matthew Wade ran back and collided heavily with the catcher Ben Hilfenhaus.
Wade appeared to be in severe pain but slowly righted himself and resumed his place behind the stumps. Pollard gave the fans something to cheer with a couple of huge sixes before he was caught in the deep for 33, which brought Sammy and Russell together.
In the end, Australia just had too many runs. Their score was set up by Warner and Watson, who gave Australia comfortably their best start of the series and left Sammy wondering about the wisdom of his decision at the toss.
Warner's 61-ball innings of 69 was easily his most fluent of the tour and the highlight was a long, flat six that he had pulled off Dwayne Bravo, and he was also strong through the off side when the bowlers dropped short. He was the quicker scorer in the partnership but Australia's tempo slowed when he tried to slog sweep Sunil Narine but misjudged the flight and saw a toe-edge lob to backward point.
Watson showed his intent early by cutting Kemar Roach for six and he was also strong through the leg side. He had an lbw decision against him on 27 overturned on review and went on to bring up his half-century from 65 balls. On 66, Watson steered a catch to third man off Russell but he had given Australia a very solid platform.
Either side of a rain delay, Forrest was steady and brought up his first half-century of the tour. His highlight was a cracking cover-drive perfectly placed to find the boundary off Marlon Samuels, who bowled as much medium-pace as offspin, his numerous quicker balls clocking almost 120kph.
Despite Forrest's runs he never looked like demolishing the West Indies attack and on 53 from 68 balls, he pulled Russell to midwicket. Russell was outstanding in the field and collected 4 for 61, and even found himself on a hat-trick after David Hussey gloved behind the ball after Forrest fell. The hat-trick didn't eventuate, but he at least halted Australia's progress.
Wade and Michael Hussey chipped in with some late boundaries but Roach (3 for 53) grabbed two wickets in the last over to prevent Australia getting any closer to 300. In the end, it didn't matter. They had enough. And a tightly-contested series got the most appropriate result.