Centuries from Jason Roy and Joe Root powered England to their record one-day run chase, chasing down the West Indies to win by six wickets in Barbados.
The tourists were up against it in the first ODI after Chris Gayle ended his six-month exile from Windies colours in towering fashion, hitting 12 maximums in a knock of 135 and guiding his team to 360 for eight.
England’s previous best pursuit was the 350 they scored against New Zealand in 2015 but Roy was fearless at the top of the order, hitting 123 in 85 balls, while Joe Root all but finished the job with a measured 102.
He fell with the scores level, but Jos Buttler clipped his first ball for four, sealing a historic win with eight deliveries remaining.
The barnstormer in Bridgetown would have followed a different path had Roy managed to hold a tough catch while 39-year-old Gayle had just nine to his name, while England’s centurions were spared on seven occasions as the hosts came unstuck in the field.
Roy offered four chances of varying difficulty between 75 and 119 and Ashley Nurse somehow managed to miss a trio of catches from Root on 46, 62 and 68.
Gayle, beginning a lap-of-honour that will end with retirement after this summer’s World Cup, had just nine from 33 balls when he fended Liam Plunkett just over the grasping Roy at point.
Four balls later he struck his first six and began working through the gears, increasingly alert to anything in his hitting arc and absolutely unforgiving when it was.
Having almost fallen at Plunkett’s hand, Gayle ensured it would not happen again, clattering four sixes from the seamer’s 14 balls at him. Moeen Ali was equally vulnerable, with Gayle launching his off-spin into the crowd on five occasions, and ended up nursing figures of nought for 85.
Where Gayle’s first 50 had occupied 76 balls, his second 50 required only 24. He celebrated the moment by dropping to his knees and hailing the pavilion before getting to his feet and, ever the showman, balancing his maroon helmet on top of his bat. He held both implements high above his head before resuming battle.
He finally fell in the 47th over, turning a Ben Stokes slower ball into his stumps. The England all-rounder finished with hugely impressive figures of three for 37, including the scalp of his old nemesis Carlos Brathwaite.
Adil Rashid also took three wickets, despite being curiously held back until the 34th over, and Nurse added three late sixes to break the innings record of 22 previously held by New Zealand.
Far from being overwhelmed by the chase, Roy positively embraced the high stakes. Faced with an odd couple opening pair – spindly leg-spinner Devendra Bishoo and hulking paceman Oshane Thomas – he went after both.
Roy’s fourth ball of the day, from Bishoo, disappeared down the ground for six while both he and Jonny Bairstow used Thomas’ express speed against him amid a flurry of early boundaries.
England reached 50 inside six overs and 100 in exactly 12, with Roy’s focus undimmed by Bairstow’s departure for 34. With Root calmly accumulating, the Windies needed to halt Roy’s charge but a top edge drifted away from Thomas in the breeze and Holder failed to grab a reaction caught-and-bowled on 82.
Progress from there to his ton was serene, a top-of-the-bounce pull and a one-bounce off drive taking him within one blow.
When that shot came it was definitive, a sweet six straight back over Ashley Nurse’s head.
Roy had further luck, a lusty slog and a reverse sweep going down, before finally slicing Bishoo to short third man.
Roy and Root hit centuries as England record emphatic six wicket victory
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His leaving gift to Root and Eoin Morgan was a friendlier required-rate behind than the one he encountered, down from 7.22 to 6.78.
Root put on 116 with Eoin Morgan, who made an enterprising 65, but found an equally willing accomplice in Nurse, who misread a hat-trick of straightforward chances to leave England’s finisher in position until the closing moments.