England 418 for 6 (Buttler 150, Morgan 103, Hales 82, Bairstow 56) beat West Indies 389 (Gayle 162, Bravo 61, Brathwaite 50, Rashid 5-85, Wood 4-60) by 29 runs
As Jos Buttler laid down an innings of sheer brutality to lead England to a towering total of 418 for six, it was as though he was calling out to any West Indies batsman who dared, "catch us if you can".
So who should step into the ring? None other than their great batting heavyweight Chris Gayle. And, for a good while, he was up to the challenge.
While Eoin Morgan punched his way brilliantly to 103 off 86 deliveries, Man of the Match Buttler pummeled West Indies into apparent submission with 150, his highest ODI score, off just 77 balls. Their 204-run stand for the fourth wicket off just 124 deliveries looked like being the knockout blow for West Indies, who would need to produce the second-highest successful chase in ODI history to go 2-1 up.
Then came Gayle, whose 162 off 97 balls gave the home side hope, particularly while the 176-run partnership he shared with Darren Bravo for the third wicket kept West Indies' score ticking over at a highly competitive clip. But with Bravo gone and West Indies' run rate dipping, Ben Stokes hit back after being flogged for 21 runs by Gayle in his first over to finally remove the danger man with a full, fast ball that shredded Gayle's stumps.
It appeared West Indies' chances, too, were in tatters until Carlos Brathwaite, who scored a maiden ODI fifty, and Ashley Nurse combined for an eighth-wicket stand of 88 to reignite the home fans' excitement. However, Adil Rashid swept in to claim four wickets in five balls, finishing with a five-for, to clean up the West Indies tail just as a close finish loomed.
Mark Wood also put in a strong showing with the ball for England, his 4 for 60 including the first four wickets to fall. Having struck twice in his opening spell, he came back to remove Bravo and Shimron Hetmyer in the space of three balls - though Gayle remained England's main obstacle.
While Buttler reached his 100 off just 60 balls, Gayle hit the mark off 55. While 12 of England's world record 24 sixes came off Buttler's bat, Gayle picked off 14 of West Indies' 22. In doing so, Gayle passed 300 ODI sixes for himself and the 500-mark for sixes across all formats. Gayle also reached 10,000 ODI runs in the process, joining some illustrious names.
Amid the Buttler-Gayle bout, there were a number of other notable performances, especially on the England side.
Openers Jonny Bairstow and Alex Hales set England up well, both scoring fifties and putting on a 100-run partnership as the undercard to Morgan and Buttler's main event.
Morgan copped a body blow when Buttler smacked a Jason Holder delivery straight back into his batting partner's ribs. Morgan limped through for a single before receiving treatment and then shrugging off the obvious discomfort to thump the next ball for six. He meted out more punishment in Holder's next over, carting him for 21 runs, and then Buttler hit 22 off Brathwaite in the next as the pair snatched 58 runs off 15 balls.
After taking a break from the slog-fest to bring up his ton with a two, Buttler could have been out a short time later when he smashed a Holder full toss to Sheldon Cottrell at third man but the delivery was a high no-ball and he was free to continue his onslaught.
Morgan brought up his century with a six off Holder, another full toss, which Morgan middled sweetly over long-on after dropping to one knee. Morgan passed 6000 runs for England during his innings, which was over when he holed out to Holder at long-off from a Cottrell slower ball.
Buttler brought up his 150 by hitting England's world record-breaking six and was out on the next ball, bowled by Brathwaite.
Bairstow's 56 off 43 balls and Hales' 82 off 73 were timely innings for both batsmen. Before this knock, Bairstow had not scored a half-century in ODIs since last June, against Australia at Chester-le-Street. During this tour of the Caribbean, he had only passed 30 twice previously, with 34 in the first ODI in Bridgetown and 52 in the first innings of the second Test in Antigua.
Hales, trying to force his way into World Cup reckoning, made the most of his chance to open in place of Jason Roy, who was ruled out of the match with a hamstring injury, before he skied a Nurse delivery down the ground and Hetmyer sprinted from long-on to long-off to pull down the catch at full stretch.
West Indies vs England
England tour of WI