Manchester: Jonny Bairstow blasted a maiden one-day international hundred as England condemned West Indies to a seven-wicket defeat at Old Trafford on Tuesday that means the twice former champions can no longer gain direct entry to the 2019 World Cup.
West Indies, the 1975 and 1979 World Cup winners, had to take this five-match series 5-0 or 4-0 with a tie or no result if they were to avoid the indignity of a qualifying competition for the next edition in England in two years’ time.
But a total of 204 for nine, in a series-opener reduced to 42 overs per side after a wet outfield delayed the start by two hours, never looked enough.
England finished on 210 for three, with a mammoth 67 balls to spare.
Bairstow, who justified his retention at the top of the order, was exactly 100 not out — his first century in 28 matches at this level.
Ben Stokes, who ended the contest with a six off spinner Ashley Nurse, was 23 not out.
Test wicket-keeper Bairstow, who made 43 as an opener in England’s last ODI — an eight-wicket Champions Trophy semi-final defeat by eventual winners Pakistan in Cardiff in June — kept his place at the top of the order instead of Jason Roy after the Surrey opener was out for a golden duck in West Indies’ T20 victory in Durham on Saturday.
Bairstow was quickly into his stride, driving West Indies captain Jason Holder through the covers for the first of 11 fours in 97 balls.
Together with Yorkshire team-mate Joe Root he put on 125 in 19 overs for the second wicket before England’s Test captain played-on to Kesrick Williams for 54.
But Bairstow, whose previous highest ODI score was a match-winning 83 not out against New Zealand in Durham two years ago, carried on to a hundred, going to three figures with a hard-run three off Nurse.
The no-result part of the equation that would have aided West Indies looked a possibility when, despite bright sunshine, concerns over damp patches near the pitch meant the day/night fixture in Manchester did not start until 1330 GMT.
But after a breezy first-wicket stand of 45 between Chris Gayle (37) and Evin Lewis (11), the innings fell away.
Stokes took three for 43 with only Holder’s 41 not out ensuring the tourists got past 200.
Holder’s decision to bat first meant big-hitting opener Gayle was straight into the action for his first ODI since the 2015 World Cup following a dispute with Caribbean cricket chiefs.
Gayle should have been out for a third-ball duck when he edged a drive off Chris Woakes only for second slip Root to drop the catch.
Jamaica left-hander Gayle cashed in by driving David Willey for two sixes in an over.
But off-spinner Moeen Ali broke the opening stand when with just his third ball when Lewis pulled a long hop to Hales at square leg.
West Indies were soon 53 for two when Gayle, whose 37 had come off just 27 balls including two fours and three sixes, skyed a drive off Woakes and Root, atoning for his earlier error, held an excellent catch over his shoulder running back.
Shai Hope and the returning Marlon Samuels steadied the innings with a third-wicket partnership of 53 in a sedate 15 overs as the ball often plugged in the outfield.
Hope, however, fell for 35 when he pulled Stokes hard and flat only for Bairstow, playing as a specialist batsman in this match, to hold an excellent leaping catch at deep midwicket.
Stokes then got the better of longstanding antagonist Samuels when the batsman was caught behind down the legside on review for a subdued 17 off 46 balls.
West Indies, who failed to qualify for this year’s Champions Trophy tournament in England, continued to struggle before Holder gave his team a glimmer of hope.
The series continues at Trent Bridge on Thursday.