The experience of Ramnaresh Sarwan and Shivnarine Chanderpaul guided West Indies into the ICC World Twenty20 semi-finals after the top order threatened to lose their heads in a reduced chase of 80 in nine overs. A succession of wild shots meant West Indies were 45 for 5 in the sixth over, but Sarwan and Chanderpaul calmly added 37 to complete the victory with four balls to spare and send the hosts out.
Chris Gayle wanted to have the final say in the extended duel between these two teams which dates back to February. He briefly threatened to carry the chase on his own but was yorked by a beauty from Ryan Sidebottom and he was grateful for calmness of his two senior batsmen. A second brilliant piece of glovework from James Foster to stump Dwayne Bravo had put England on top, but Sarwan and Chanderpaul showed there is room for sensible batsmanship even in a nine-over thrash.
When Sarwan hit the winning boundary with four balls to spare the rest of the team - apart from Gayle who strode out at his own pace - sprinted onto the outfield in scenes reminiscent of their 2004 Champions Trophy victory on the same ground. Weeks of moping around England for the Tests and one-dayers were long forgotten.
A heavy thunderstorm after England's innings concluded on 161 for 6 meant Duckworth-Lewis came into use. It would have been understandable if West Indies were nervous at the prospect after John Dyson's embarrassing error during the one-day series, when he handed England victory, but the calculations benefited West Indies as much as they knew what was needed and could attack hard.
However, they almost went too hard. Andre Fletcher bagged his third duck in a row when he top-edged a pull off James Anderson, although Gayle was only going to play one way. He slammed Sidebottom's first ball over midwicket and then cracked him over cover, but the bowler responded in fine style as he speared a yorker under Gayle's bat.
Stuart Broad struck with his first ball when Lendl Simmons carved to third man and there was a manic nature about the run-chase that threatened to unravel West Indies' hopes. Paul Collingwood used his bowlers in one-over spells and when the three-over Powerplay was finished he brought Graeme Swann into the attack. The offspinner responded with five excellent deliveries that yielded three runs, but the sixth ball was lofted over long-off for six by Kieron Pollard.
Collingwood then gambled by tossing the ball to Adil Rashid - preferred in this game to Dimitri Mascarenhas - and his first delivery was magnificently driven over extra cover by Bravo. In two shots, West Indies were back in front and the pressure was on a young spinner. That Rashid responded with a top-spinner to bowl Pollard is a huge credit to him and shows great promise for the future.
Then came what looked a pivotal moment as Bravo was beaten by Swann's flight and Foster made a split-second stumping as the batsman raised his foot. At that moment West Indies needed 35 from 22 balls, but this time Foster wasn't a match-winner.
Sarwan drove Anderson through cover and whipped him behind square for a second boundary and that was to prove the final twist. Chanderpaul nudged, nurdled and responded to his partner's screams to run hard (despite an injured thigh) and swung a priceless boundary past fine leg that meant Sidebottom would have little to work with in the final over.
England will look back and think the reduction in overs was harsh on them, but once again the batting had failed to build on a solid start against an attack lacking Fidel Edwards who was forced out moments before the toss with a back injury.
As Ravi Bopara and Kevin Pietersen added 56 all was looking good, but once Pietersen picked out deep square-leg with a top-edged lap the innings stalled and nearly went backwards. There wasn't a boundary from the 11th over until the penultimate ball of the innings, when Broad swept Sulieman Benn and followed it up with a clean straight six as the bowler struggled with a wet ball.
Bopara's 55 from 47 balls was full of elegance and class, with two on-drives as perfect as you could wish to see, but at times it seemed as though others were playing with hollow bats. Bopara and Pietersen managed 10 of the 13 fours between them and a lack of power in the middle order was cruely exposed. It is that absence of brutal hitting that was decisive, not the rain.