West Indies outmuscled England to win the T20 series 2-0 with one to play courtesy of a five-wicket win with seven balls to spare at Kensington Oval. England worked hard to hang in the game, especially with the ball, but West Indies struck 11 sixes to England's six and ultimately their extra power proved impossible to contain.
The big beast, Chris Gayle, who only a few days ago had been wondering about the state of his glutes, commandeered West Indies' innings with five gluteus maximuses, three of them flying onto the roof of the stands and out of the ground. James Tredwell risked a cricked neck as he watched three sail skywards, but still only conceded 27: the West Indies, did not bother themselves with too many singles.
But Ravi Bopara, at his most sagacious with the ball, turned in a commendable spell, 10 runs conceded from four overs of devil's confetti to equal England's most economical full spell in T20. He had Gayle outwitted, chopping on for 36 from 30 balls. West Indies, having patted Bopara back with no sense of urgency, had seven wickets intact and 37 to get from four overs, but the immensity of the task suddenly dawned on them when Tim Bresnan dismissed Marlon Samuels and Andre Russell to leg-side catches in successive balls.
The final fusillade came from Darren Sammy, an unbeaten 30 from only nine balls with the rope cleared three times: so much for a tricky target of 31 from the last three overs. "Good momentum… we're looking good," said Sammy. Nobody could question that. He mullered some attempted yorkers from Jade Dernbach and Bresnan over the ropes and he will go to Bangladesh as a captain content about his own game.
The statistical advantage of batting first in T20Is at this ground - 11 wins from 14 before now - is not quite as daunting as it was. England's recognisably dud start - 26 for 3 in five overs - had much to do with that.
This match, well contested unlike West Indies' 27-run victory two days earlier, probably illustrated what awaits these sides in World T20 in Bangladesh. West Indies, the defending champions, will produce most of the crowd-pleasing moments; England, champions before them, will sneak little advantages where they can, and hope to win matches on the blindside.
Without West Indies-style power at their disposal, England have little to be relaxed about, but there is always the Jos stick to turn to. Jos Buttler hit out with good effect, replacing the stench of another top-order collapse with something more appealingly scented. His 67 from 43 balls was his best in T20Is and such is his growing importance to this England side, it was surprising to reflect that this was only his second T20 half-century, his speciality until recently being limited to violent forays down the order.
It is a fair assumption that as England have agonised about how to gather themselves ahead of World T20, Krishmar Santokie, a 29-year-old Jamaican, has not occupied their thoughts. But it was Santokie who returned 4 for 21 in only his fourth T20 and who collected the Man-of-the-Match award while much of the crowd chatted about the six-hitting exploits of Gayle and Sammy.
Santokie was the none-too-tall left-arm seamer who had replaced Sunil Narine, West Indies' star bowling asset for the World T20, but rested after he had tested his strained knee gingerly alongside the physio in a manner that will have done nothing to calm West Indies' fears about his fitness, even if Sammy optimistically predicted that he might be back for the final match on Thursday.
But Santokie proved to be a wily old bird. First there was the devilish low full toss which Michael Lumb played all around to be lbw (there were theories he might have got a nick but he should have middled it). Then Moeen Ali played so far outside a slower offcutter he was not in the same parish. He returned late in the innings with two more body blows, not just adding Buttler but also dismissing Bopara, who miscued to long-off.
Moeen was one of two England debutants as they rebalanced their seam-dominated side in the opening match - Lancashire's left-arm spinner Stephen Parry was the other - but England's stand-in captain Eoin Morgan, in charge in place of Stuart Broad, who has tendonitis in his knee, rejected suggestions that England had particular problems against spin, suggesting that they have struggled at the top of the innings "regardless of what we have faced." Morgan did fall to spin, his top-edged sweep against Samuel Badree plopping to deep square leg.
There was much desperate thrashing by Buttler and Alex Hales before it got better, most comically when Ramdin dropped Hales on 15 when he called for a skier heading down to third man and failed to lay a glove on the ball. Hales and Buttler eventually found a release, extending their stand to 76 in nine overs - Sammy's solitary over, which cost 17, their major solace.
Hales fell in the deep for 40, a nodding acquaintance with his best form, no more than that, and a prolonged shower disrupted England's innings with Buttler in full swing. Even though they scrambled 43 from the last 33 deliveries a workaday total proved to be within West Indies' range.