Andrew Miller is UK editor of ESPNcricinfo. @miller_cricket
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West Indies 179 for 4 (Pollard 41) beat England 162 (Vince 55, Holder 5-25, Hosein 4-30) by 17 runs
Jason Holder claimed four wickets in four balls in front of an ecstatic home crowd in Barbados, to put a very personal seal on an outstanding series win for West Indies. In a pulsating finale at Bridgetown, Holder built on a career-best haul of 4 for 30 from the left-arm spinner Akeal Hosein, to outlast an England team that was once again left to rue its own shortcomings at the death, as they succumbed by 17 runs to lose the series 3-2.
In reply, James Vince set the early tempo with 55 from 35 balls, and Sam Billings applied some precious late impetus with 41 from 28. But after Hosein had undermined England with a wicket in each of his four overs, it was left to the veteran Holder to defend 20 runs in the final over - and despite a first-ball no-ball to ramp up the jeopardy, there was never any doubt once he found his range.
First to go was Chris Jordan, who picked up a low full toss with a heave across the line, but picked out the substitute Hayden Walsh Jr on the midwicket rope. Billings, who got himself back on strike as the batters crossed, then launched a similar stroke in a similar direction, as Holder trusted the full length, before Adil Rashid slapped another fifth-stump delivery high into the leg-side, where Odean Smith settled beneath the hat-trick delivery.
That was already game, set and series - but even more glory was to come Holder's way before the celebrations could begin in earnest, as Saqib Mahmood attempted to dig out a full straight ball, and inside-edged on to his leg stump, a deflection so imperceptible that it wasn't until Nicholas Pooran started pointing in glee at the dislodged bail that Holder realised what he had achieved. As if his haul of 4 for 7 in the first match wasn't glorious enough, this was quite the way to finish.
On the front foot from the outset
After winning the toss for the fourth time in the series, Pollard chose to bat for the first time - his logic being that the "virtual final" nature of the contest made runs on the board all the more valuable. And, with the contest taking place on the same pitch where Powell had mown a 51-ball century on Wednesday, it was a chance to show faith in his troops as well.
Mahmood was back in England's team for similar reasons - in the wake of his maltreatment at the death in game two, this was a chance for him to prove his mettle in a high-stakes contest. The initial signs, however, were ominous. Latching on to his residual doubts, Brandon King launched Mahmood's first ball clean over long-on for a premeditated six, and by the time Kyle Mayers had swivelled into a brace of exquisite pulls, his last two overs in international cricket had gone for an eye-watering 47 runs.
And thus the early tone of West Indies' innings was set. Reece Topley continued his impressive re-entry by conceding 11 runs from two overs, but Mayers - quite the upgrade from the off-colour Shai Hope - laid into Jordan with another brace of Lara-esque pulls through the leg-side, before King dumped a Moeen Ali length ball over long-on for the fourth six of the powerplay, one over after Billings spilled a leg-side stumping catch as he tweaked one through the gate.
Rashid causes mid-innings panic
Spin is one thing… but legspin is West Indies' kryptonite. And Rashid has proven to be a particularly debilitating rival down the years. This was his 13th T20I against West Indies - more than he has played against any other nation. He now has 22 wickets against them at an average of 10.95, an economy rate of 5.69, and a strike-rate of 11.5 (more than one every two overs) - and each of those are figures that he hasn't bettered against anyone else.
At the end of the powerplay, West Indies were cooking on 58 for 0. Four balls later, there was panic in the air, as Mayers took on the long boundary with a ragged pull into the wind, and found Jason Roy back-pedalling on the rope for another routinely sensational relay catch - Phil Salt was the beneficiary as he pocketed the lob back into play while jogging round from long-on.
Romario Shepherd, once again pushed up the order with a licence for carnage, duly obliged by greeting a Liam Livingstone full-toss with a slam over long-on. But before the over was out, he'd been utterly undone by the ball turning out of his arc - beaten on the slog one ball, then skewing a fat outside edge to point the next, and West Indies had slipped to 67 for 2.
Pooran attempted to take Rashid down with an airy first-ball flog over long-on, but having failed to connect properly, he then retreated into his shell - as if mindful of not exposing his team-mates to the threat. At the other end, King's previously sparky innings came to a tame end as Livingstone made it three wickets out of three for the leggies, and it would be seven full overs before West Indies would break the shackles with another boundary. By then, Rashid had signed off for the night by bowling Pooran with a googly for 21 - his figures of 2 for 17 from four overs had applied the emergency break.
Powell, Pollard pick up the pace
For that period of West Indies' mid-innings reticence, their Manhattan chart began to resemble a stumble down a flight of cellar stairs. But as soon as the death overs began, England's increasingly infamous frailties surged to the fore. Topley, so excellent for so much of this series, was collared on the pull by Powell, whose arrival in the 15th over was eyebrow-raisingly late given his form.
Pollard, a sheet-anchor for his first 12 balls, then picked off a full toss in the same over to kick-start his innings, and when Topley's best ball of the over, a pinpoint leg-stump yorker, was deflected fine through third man for four more, England's dismal record between overs 16-20 - it's now more than 11 runs per over since the start of 2021, worse than any other ODI team - was sounding like a stuck record.
Jordan has been especially culpable in that regard of late - not least in that pivotal over in the World Cup semi-final against New Zealand - and when he missed his mark four times in the space of six balls, Powell and Pollard were primed to cash in (although one of Powell's sixes in particular, a flat smash through midwicket off an otherwise faultless yorker, was really just a heady confluence of skill and confidence). Another 66 runs had flooded from England's final four overs, to go with the 67 they had conceded in their second match. After five taxing matches, that's an issue that they seem no closer to resolving.
Akeal is England's Achilles Heel
Roy on strike? How about some left-arm spin? It's become a pretty transparent ploy from teams the world over, but with good reason, given that Roy was talking in the lead-up to the World Cup about having to banish some "darker thoughts" when faced with that ominous mode of attack.
For two balls, it seemed that West Indies had out-thought themselves, as Roy responded with a brace of feisty boundaries - a slotted drive through long-off, and a short-arm thump through the covers. Before the over was out, however, Roy was traipsing off, shaking his head in dismay, after under-edging a slog-sweep into his pad and into Pooran's gloves as he ran round from behind the stumps.
That was the end of his work for the first half of the innings - it was the startling pace of the recalled Smith that dominated the rest of the powerplay, as Tom Banton paid the price for nailing one pull for six by splicing another to Pollard on the edge of the rope, before Moeen was dropped first ball as he steered a snorter to Holder at slip.
Holder would eventually atone for that error by ending an unusually laboured stay from Moeen - there was never any danger of a repeat of his four consecutive sixes from game four as he flicked his first ball after drinks into the covers to trudge off for a boundary-less 14 from 19. But given his reputation for taking down spinners, Moeen's departure was the cue for Hosein to return, and he did so with a devastating triple-whammy.
Livingstone was the first of his mid-innings victims - caught at point as his campaign ended with a miscued slap - and though Vince carved consecutive fours to rattle past a 30-ball half-century, his attempted slog-sweep in Hosein's next over plopped tamely into the hands of deep midwicket. Phil Salt didn't get past the slog aspect of his dismissal - a rowdy gallop led to him being stumped by a distance for 3 - and as Hosein finished his spell of 4 for 30, England took a sickly scoreline of 124 for 6 into their own death-overs effort.
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