Andrew Strauss continued his prolific Caribbean tour with a sizzling, unbeaten 79 off 61 balls to rush England to a series-leveling nine-wicket victory over the West Indies in the rain-affected 4th Digicel One-Day International at Kensington Oval on Sunday.
The visitors, set a Duckworth/Lewis target of 135 off 20 overs, raced home with nine balls to spare.
The 32-year-old Strauss, already with a century in the series, cracked nine fours and a six to anchor the emphatic England chase.
Earlier, the West Indies were limited to 239-9 off 50 overs despite another boundary-studded start from Captain Chris Gayle.
Gayle, who lit up Kensington on Friday with eight sixes and five fours in 80, cracked five sixes and three fours in 46 off 39 balls.
But once he fell, the innings never regained that sort of intensity.
All-rounder Dwayne Bravo averted a total middle order disaster with a top-score of 69 off 72 balls. The right-hander lashed seven fours and two sixes to guide the home side out of the peril of 145-6.
Medium pacer Dimitri Mascarenhas, carted for 24 in one over by Gayle two days ago, now led the England attack with three for 26. Pacer Stuart Broad claimed Gayle and Bravo on his way to three for 62.
Gayle gave the West Indies a flying start as he and an assured Lendl Simmons added 72 for the first wicket in 12.4 overs.
Once Gayle top-edged a pull at Broad and was caught by wicket-keeper Matt Prior, the home team slipped away.
Simmons, who hit three fours and a six in 29 off 39 balls was run out after a mix-up with Ramnaresh Sarwan. Sarwan soon followed cheaply as he dragged on from Andrew Flintoff as England took control at 83-3.
Shivnarine Chanderpaul and Denesh Ramdin added 43 for the fourth wicket to restore the West Indies’ innings.
Mascarenhas then claimed three quick wickets to further derail the hosts.
Ramdin (26 off 29 balls) holed out to mid-off, Chanderpaul (27 off 51) feathered an edge to Prior and Kieron Pollard (0) picked out deep square leg where Flintoff seemed lucky to get away with the catch as he trod on the boundary marker.
Bravo dominated the latter part of the innings, playing some thrilling strokes during his half century.
Heavy and persistent rain during the interval kept the players off the field for two and a half hours and reduced England’s pursuit to 135 off 20 overs.
The visitors, handicapped by injuries to key batsmen Kevin Pietersen (back spasms) and Andrew Flintoff (bruised thumb off a Bravo straight drive) when they were fielding, were given a rousing start by Strauss and Ravi Bopara.
Strauss lashed Lionel Baker’s third over of the innings for 18 runs, including four successive fours, to set the tone.
The 32-year-old left-hander reached his half century off 41 balls and shared an opening stand of 108 with Bopara.
Bopara lashed one huge six in 35 off 39 balls but fell with victory in sight. He holed out to deep fine leg off Kieron Pollard.
Matt Prior hit an unbeaten 14 towards the end but his captain Strauss hit the winning runs.
Umpire Steve Bucknor, standing in his final international after a 20-year career that spanned a world record 128 tests and 181 one-dayers, fittingly made the final signal of the match as Strauss steered a boundary to third man to seal the victory.