Jos Buttler said that England's hard-fought victory over a Chris Gayle-powered West Indies in Grenada was the ideal dress rehearsal ahead of this summer's World Cup, as their No. 1 team were pushed to the limits before sealing a remarkable 29-run win in a match lit up by two displays of world-class hitting.
Buttler sealed the spoils with his innings of 150 from 77 balls, including 12 sixes and an acceleration from 50 to 150 in a mere 31 deliveries. But Gayle pushed him closer than anyone could have imagined with his riposte of 162 from 97, and could well have edged it had he not been bowled by Ben Stokes with 15 full overs of the chase remaining.
"It was hectic," Buttler told Sky Sports afterwards. "I'm trying to catch my breath. It was an unbelievable game of cricket. I think as a side, being put under a huge amount of pressure in a game like that, we showed a huge amount of character to come through it."
England's victory ensures them at least a share of the spoils in what is now a four-match series after Monday's washout. And a win in Saturday's finale in St Lucia will guarantee they remain top of the rankings going into their final World Cup preparations against Ireland and Pakistan in May.
But having been forced to hunt down a hefty target of 361 in their first match in Barbados, before being stung by an untimely collapse at the same ground two days later, Buttler believed that England had learned some valuable lessons against a hugely competitive West Indies side with a resurgent world-beater in their ranks.
"It's a great dress rehearsal, with lots of pressure," he said. "But it just goes to show, no matter who's favourite, on any given day there will be unbelievable games of cricket, and if Chris Gayle is in the opposition, you can lose those games. I've probably never seen anyone hit sixes as easy as he can. He's a legend of the game."
As England's vice-captain, Buttler was right in the thick of the permutations as England attempted to stem the tide during West Indies' pursuit.
"There were lots of discussions out in the middle," he said. "We needed wickets all the time, because we felt that if Gayle batted long enough they'd win the game, which is incredible when you've got 420 on the board."
In the end, the game was sealed in two contrasting but character-filled performances from Mark Wood, who was an aggressive handful with new ball and old, and picked up four wickets all told, and Adil Rashid, who recovered from some rough treatment early in his day's work to scalp four wickets in a single over to complete a remarkable five-wicket haul.
"Mark Wood was outstanding again," Buttler said. "He bowled fantastically, with a lot of confidence, charging in and bowling fast. A fit and firing Wood has got that X-factor.
"And I like the way that Adil wants the ball in those situations. Being able to spin the ball both ways, he's tough to get after. We juggled the bowlers well, and for Adil to bowl an over like that at that time was special. We were put under great pressure and did well to stand up to it."
However, it was Buttler himself who produced the Man-of-the-Match performance, with a blistering innings that he was at a loss to explain afterwards.
"It was special," he said. "I enjoyed it, because when you get into that zone, to continue it is pleasing. Range hitting is fun, I enjoy practising it in the nets, with no consequences, just learning to have fun, improvise and improve.
"I had a chat with Joe Root [when I came to the crease], he said we needed north of 350, so knowing that was at the back of my mind. With 12-13 overs left, we were well set so it was time to kick on.
"That's one of the strengths of the team," he added. "There are no egos, we have a lots of guys willing to bat in a multitude of positions, with no set batting order."
Gayle was also full of praise for Buttler's performance after the match, albeit with a jokey caveat.
"Buttler is superb," he said. "You can't take away the fact that he's one of the best strikers in the world today … but he's not close to the Universe Boss though!
"But he's a youngster, he'll get there eventually. He's showcased his talent all round the world. He's a game changer, a game winner, any team needs a Buttler in their team to win them games.
"He's a superb player, he's been in superb form from the last IPL, and he's done this for England for some time. He's a key player, batted superbly well and took the game away from us."