England were powerless to resist Rovman Powell as his brawny, six-laden century ushered the West Indies to a 20-run victory and a 2-1 lead in the five-match Twenty20 series in Barbados.
Powell, brought in for Odean Smith, thumped 10 of the Windies’ 16 sixes en route to a terrific 107 from 53 balls in an innings that formed the backbone of his side’s 224 for five, with Nicholas Pooran clubbing 70 off 43 deliveries.
Tom Banton gave a much-changed England hope of pulling off their third-highest chase ever with a 39-ball 73 but his dismissal left the tourists needing 96 from 45 deliveries before Phil Salt kept their flickering hopes alive.
Salt, one of three T20 debutants alongside George Garton and Harry Brook, brought the equation down to 36 in an over, flaying the first two deliveries for six en route to a 22-ball fifty before being bowled round his legs as England finished on 204 for nine.
England, captained by Moeen Ali on Wednesday night because of a slight quad niggle to Eoin Morgan, now need to win both remaining matches to prevail in the series after 31 maximums on a difficult night for bowlers.
Garton claimed a wicket on his international bow but the left-armer, one of three in England’s XI alongside Reece Topley and Tymal Mills, leaked 57 from his four overs. Mills was also expensive, conceding 52 from his allotment.
After Moeen elected to bat first following a slight rain delay, the Windies reached 15 for one in three overs, with Garton’s eventful introduction at international level starting by being driven for four before cleaning up Brandon King as he shaped to steer the ball down to third man.
Garton, though, discovered the harsher side to life at the top level with Pooran, whose top-edge off his second ball dropped just in front of short fine leg, twice pulling over the rope then repeating the dose off Tymal Mills.
Shai Hope departed when he bottom-edged an attempted sweep onto his pad but England were given an early indication of what was to come when Powell swept powerfully over the deep midwicket fence.
Livingstone and then Moeen, in his only over, craned their necks skywards as Powell flayed high and straight. Even though Moeen was shuffling his options, the boundaries kept flowing with only Adil Rashid able to subdue the pair.
After Pooran and Powell had reached their fifties, the latter turbocharged the innings by muscling two successive sixes off Livingstone in an over that yielded 26, including five wides that barely landed on the cut strip.
Rashid ended a 122-run stand – a Windies record for the third wicket in the format – when Pooran holed out to long-on but there was no let-up for England as Powell reached his first T20 international hundred off only 51 balls then celebrated by heaving Reece Topley out of the ground.
Attempting to repeat he was caught in the deep off Topley. Three late wickets failed to stem the tide as the hosts added 110 in the last seven overs, with concerns remaining over England’s death bowling, as the Windies registered their highest T20 score against their opponents.
After England failed to find the boundary in the first 11 balls of the reply, Banton carted Jason Holder back over his head for six while Jason Roy did likewise off Sheldon Cottrell.
Roy and then James Vince contributed cameos before departing in their teens while Moeen made his second duck in three matches. But Banton took down Akeal Hosein, smashing him for sixes over midwicket in each of the slow left-armer’s first two overs and reached 50 off 29 deliveries shortly before England got to 100 in the 11th over.
Livingstone toe-ended to extra-cover in a brief stay where he needed treatment after appearing under the weather on his comeback following oesophagitis and at this stage England’s hopes seemed to rest on Banton’s shoulders.
He dispatched Romario Shepherd for back-to-back straight sixes while Kieron Pollard was taken the distance before Banton clothed the Windies captain to wide long-on, throwing his head back in despair as Holder completed the catch.
That appeared to be the final nail in England’s coffin but Salt crashed sixes off Hosein, Shepherd then Cottrell in the arc between deep square-leg and long-on before another couple of successive leg-side fours off Holder.
Brook, Garton and Rashid came and went and though 38 was needed from the final six balls, Shepherd offered a couple of wides before Salt hammered the first two deliveries of the over for six. However, Salt was then cleaned up round his legs for 57 off 24 balls to end England’s challenge.