THE worry was that it was too good to be true.
Victories over New Zealand by 46 and 61 runs in the two Twenty20 Internationals and by nine wickets and 55 runs in the first two ODIs encouraged optimism that there would be an uncommon West Indies clean sweep of the short-format matches.
Yet, even against a depleted, average opposition, doubts lingered. Prompted by years of inconsistency, the question was not so much if as when customary carelessness would suddenly transform such overwhelming invincibility into embarrassing defeat.
The answer was provided in the third ODI at Warner Park on Wednesday when a combination of flawed tactics, uncontrolled bowling, thoughtless batting, rash running between the wickets and misplaced complacency led to a loss by a margin of 88 runs even more crushing than it was on the scoresheet.
It was even more poignant for the 8,000 or so who came to a match the team dedicated to the memory of one of their former teammates, the the Nevisian Runako Morton who died in a car crash in Trinidad earlier in the year.
New Zealand's young stand-in captain Kane Williamson called the result a "shift in momentum". It was a prophesy confirmed in the fourth match at the same venue yesterday when the West Indies had to draw on all their battling resources, so absent in the previous match, to overcome an uncomfortable beginning and set a winning target of 266.
Kept in check principally by Sunil Narine's puzzling variations and captain Darren Sammy's controlled medium-pace and then finished off by Tino Best's pace and accuracy, they could not overhaul it in spite of a magnificent hundred from their returning captain Ross Taylor in his first complete innings of the tour. It meant the West Indies secured the series even before the fifth and final match tomorrow but it should never have come to that.
Sammy, coach Ottis Gibson and many others besides have made the point that the West Indies repeatedly suffer from too many bad sessions in Tests where there is, at least, the chance for recovery. There is none when the overs are limited.
Williamson's "shift in momentum" was created by the distinct shift in the attitude of the two teams on Wednesday.
New Zealand had been cowed in the earlier matches by the power-hitting of Chris Gayle, Dwayne Smith, Kieron Pollard, Marlon Samuels and Dwayne Bravo and the mesmerising spin of Narine. It was their last chance to turn around a tour that, allied to several injuries, was quickly becoming a disaster.
A total of 250 for nine from their 50 overs might have seemed inadequate against the West Indian big guns on one of the smallest outfields in international cricket; interviewed on tv during the break, Nathan McCullum, whose 50 gave the innings a final push, reckoned it could be enough – once their bowlers targeted the "right areas" and were supported by sharp fielding.
He didn't have to mention the potential impact of the early removal of Gayle. That was a given; the intimidating left-hander had intimidated them with 18 sixes in 326 runs from 255 balls in his previous four innings.
The first baffling West Indian judgment came even before a ball was bowled. Evidently on a whim, Sammy chose to bowl on winning the toss. In the second ODI at Sabina, Williamson did the same and the West Indies amassed 315 for five – and there was no noticeable difference between the two pitches.
Even so, sloppy bowling by Ravi Rampaul, Andre Russell and Dwayne Bravo helped New Zealand compile 124 for their last five wickets and a total as high as 250. All three were taken for over six runs an over and, although Russell's figures were accompanied by four wickets, they negated the miserly work of Narine (10-0-28-2) and Sammy (8-1-22-1).
Sammy's explanation for giving Rampaul his full quota of 10 overs while using himself for only eight was that he was sticking to the game plan. It was better he said nothing.
When New Zealand took the field it was with a spring in their step not formerly evident. It was quickly followed by the removal of Gayle for 11. He had been bothered by the left-arm swing of Trent Boult, playing his first match, but it was Tim Southee, equally probing, who found his edge for a slip catch off his 22nd ball.
New Zealand's whooping celebrations told the story. They knew they were back in contention even if they could not have expected the help they would get from the West Indies batsmen.
Dwayne Smith and Kieron Pollard, neither under real pressure, swung high catches from needless strokes. Marlon Samuels ambled out of his ground believing his sweetly timed cover-drive was on its way to the boundary only to be dispatched by Martin Guptill's diving save and direct hit on his stumps.
Dwayne Bravo, attempting the only three runs of the match, was predictably thrown out from third man. Usain Bolt and Yohan Blake would have been hard-pressed to make it.
When Sammy tapped a tame return catch to off-spinner McCullum from the back of the bat and Denesh Ramdin was lbw on the back foot, the West Indies were 103 for eight and their goose all but cooked. Only Russell's hectic hitting that produced four sixes in an unbeaten 42 off 24 balls kept the oven going for a few overs.
In keeping with the earlier foolishness, Narine ran himself out and Rampaul hoisted a catch to long-off to formalize the result.
The West Indies can point to yesterday's result and say that all's well that ends well. The level-headed batting of Samuels, Pollard and the new keeper Devon Thomas got them out of a hole after the early fall of Johnson Charles, Gayle again and Dwayne Bravo (to another wanton stroke). Best, Narine and Sammy ensured they came back strong after New Zealand made a rapid start to their chase.
They must appreciate that one match such as Wednesday's could well occur in a more high-profile tournament than a bilateral series against New Zealand.
As has happened before, such meltdowns have booted various West Indies teams out of World Cup semis or quarter-finals and a Champions Trophy final. The 3-1 advantage in the current series is satisfying as it was their first over opponents above them in the ICC rankings since 2008 in the Caribbean (2-0 over Sri Lanka hasn't happened) but they are still to find the consistency several coaches have yearned for but found so elusive.