Jason Holder took four wickets from the final four balls to send England to a 17-run defeat in the deciding Twenty20 and give West Indies a 3-2 series win in Barbados.
With England needing 20 from the last over, Barbadian Holder had Sam Billings, Chris Jordan and Adil Rashid caught on the leg-side boundary and then bowled Saqib Mahmood.
West Indies earlier overcame being subdued by England’s spinners to take advantage of some poor death bowling in their 179-4.
Rovman Powell clubbed 35 not out from 17 balls and captain Kieron Pollard supported with an unbeaten 41.
James Vince looked to be carrying England in the chase, but crucially top-edged Akeal Hosein to the mid-wicket boundary for 55.
Left-arm spinner Hosein took a wicket in each of three successive overs, his 4-30 reducing England to 119-6.
Sam Billings kept them afloat with 41, only for Holder to give England’s seamers a lesson, ending with 5-27 as the tourists were bowled out for 162.
England return to the Caribbean in March for a three-Test series, with a squad due to be named in the coming weeks.
Before then, director of cricket Ashley Giles will submit a report on their Ashes hammering, potentially sparking changes to the management of the England men’s teams.
Holder humbles inexperienced England
While England ultimately lost this game by unravelling at the end of West Indies’ innings, former captain Holder’s achievement in becoming only the fourth man to take four wickets in four balls in a T20 international, on his home ground, was electrifying.
England’s batters got stuck in the chase, a middle-order collapse to Hosein typical of a series when none of the second-string made a compelling case to dislodge any of the first-choice players missing after taking part in the Ashes.
As usual, Vince oozed elegance in his second T20 half-century, adding 46 with Moeen Ali, who never matched the fluency of his 63 in Saturday’s fourth match with just 14 from 19 balls.
Hosein was held back while Moeen remained, but after the England skipper miscued to give Holder his first wicket, Hosein removed Liam Livingstone, Vince and Phil Salt.
England needed 48 from the final three overs, only for Billings and Jordan to take 20 off the 18th, giving the tourists a glimmer of hope.
Curiously, both teams had 160 going into their final over, but the difference was Holder, even if he did start with a no-ball.
Jordan, the man who conceded 19 from West Indies’ final set, skied to the leg-side fence, with Billings and Rashid falling in almost identical fashion.
Hardly anyone inside the Kensington Oval spotted that Mahmood had inside-edged on to his leg stump. When they did, it sparked joyous celebrations.
Windies’ innings of three thirds
It was a curious innings from West Indies, thanks mainly to the disparity in quality between England’s pace and spin bowling.
The hosts motored in the powerplay, meandered in the middle overs, then surged at the end. They took 58 from the first six overs, 47 from the next nine and 74 off the final five.
The early charge was led by Kyle Mayers, who whipped almost all of his 31 through the leg side. He was cut off by a wonderful relay catch on the boundary – Jason Roy nonchalantly offloading from deep mid-wicket to long-on Salt to give the masterful Rashid his first wicket.
England’s four scalps were shared between the leg-spin of Rashid and Livingstone as England applied the brakes in a period of nine overs where only one was delivered by a pace bowler.
At one point, West Indies went 42 balls between boundaries, with impetus eventually coming from Powell, who despite hitting a scintillating hundred in the third match of the series, was held back at number six and did not arrive until the 15th over.
From a low stance, he belted four sixes when England returned to pace at the death, and skipper Pollard followed in his slipstream.
Overall, England’s spin trio returned 4-54 from 10 overs, while their pace counterparts went wicketless and leaked 122 runs from the same amount.
‘This is Jason Holder’s town’
England captain Moeen Ali: “West Indies were the better team. We didn’t adapt to the conditions and just fell short.
“We are working on our death bowling but I didn’t think we were too bad today. We’ll get better as time goes on. They were smarter than us today with bat and ball.”
West Indies skipper Kieron Pollard: “Every single person in the dressing room, well done to every single one of them. This is Jason Holder’s ground, his town, but it was total team effort from us. The guys worked hard throughout the series.”
Man of the match Jason Holder: “It was a classic finish. It was not the best of starts from us but we just tried to stay in the game.
“I’m pumped up for the moment, I love playing at Kensington Oval. It’s the best place in the world to play cricket.”