(ESPN Cricinfo) Oshane Thomas tore England’s house down, leaving Chris Gayle to build his castle on the demolition site and enjoy the view – king of a drawn series as West Indies won the fifth and final ODI by seven wickets with 227 balls to spare in St Lucia.
England’s total of 113 was their lowest in ODIs against West Indies and the defeat was England’s worst in terms of balls remaining in their ODI history.
The match was astonishing but, in the context of a series in which every match has been full of record-breaking moments and breath-taking performances, it was another jaw-dropping installment of a contest which ended level at 2-2 after the third fixture, in Grenada, was a washout.
Thomas took 5-21 in 5.1 overs – his maiden ODI five-for – to be named Man of the Match, claiming four of his wickets as England lost 5-2 in 21 balls to end an innings which lasted just 28.1 overs.
Gayle looked like single-handedly overhauling the target, smashing 77 off just 27 deliveries, pummeling Chris Woakes and Mark Wood for a total of nine sixes and five fours along the way.
Woakes looked to have Gayle out to a top edge caught at fine leg, but Gayle stood his ground and the delivery was ruled a no ball by the third umpire for being too high, much to England’s indignation. Gayle proceeded to smack Woakes’s next delivery for a gigantic six which landed atop the pavilion roof.
Gayle reached his half century off just 19 balls, the fastest ODI 50 by a West Indies batsman, beating the 20-ball mark achieved twice by Darren Sammy and poetically broken by Gayle at the ground bearing Sammy’s name.
By the time Gayle was out, bowled by a Wood off-cutter, West Indies’ work was done at 93 for 2, the winning runs coming from a boundary by Shimron Hetmyer off Tom Curran’s first and only ball of the match with West Indies’ innings lasting just 12. 1 overs.
Gayle, who announced before the first ODI in Barbados that he would retire from one-day cricket after this year’s World Cup, amassed 424 runs to be named Player of the Series, adding knocks of 162, 50 and 135 to his latest innings of 77 and hitting a total of 39 sixes to thrill all who watched him.
Jason Holder and Carlos Brathwaite added two wickets apiece to Thomas’s five-for to give West Indies their best imaginable chance of drawing the series as they chased just 114 runs to win the match.
Sheldon Cottrell struck during his second over – the third of the match – with a full inswinger that found Jonny Bairstow’s inside edge and sent leg stump cartwheeling. Cottrell did not have to do much to play a part again when Joe Root sent a Holder delivery straight down his throat at third man.
When Brathwaite had Alex Hales out nicking to wicketkeeper Shai Hope, England still looked to be in good hands with Ben Stokes and Eoin Morgan, whose century in the fourth ODI was overshadowed by Jos Buttler’s towering 150 off 77 balls, still at the crease. But, with Morgan, Stokes and Moeen Ali all falling cheaply, the tourists were in deep trouble, even with Buttler’s wicket intact.
Woakes’ starring role with the bat against West Indies in 2017 was not to be reprised. He struggled to settle and skied the ball to Holder at midwicket for a duck, giving Thomas his third wicket for the match and, two balls later, Thomas removed danger man Buttler with a short, 142kph ball top-edged to Cottrell at deep fine leg for just 23.
Holder had Adil Rashid out caught behind and Thomas’s ball to knock over Curran’s stumps was a beauty.
England’s innings could not have been more different to the run-fest of the fourth ODI in Grenada, where they scored 418 for 6. But West Indies showed what they were capable of, following their win in the second match with a gallant chase to reach a total of 389 in the third.