England openers Alastair Cook and Ian Bell have replied seamlessly to West Indies' patchy 238 for nine at The Oval.

Victory here would wrap up the NatWest Series a match early by giving the hosts an unassailable 2-0 lead, and an unbroken stand of 86 in 15 overs on a true batting surface did nothing to dispel the impression that a routine success might be the order of the day for England.

They appeared to have done the hard work by restricting the tourists to a likely under-par total, despite contrasting half-centuries from Chris Gayle and Dwayne Bravo.

Gayle's raw power rained five sixes and three fours to all parts in his 41-ball 50 at the top of the order. Then after England withstood that barrage and took four wickets for the addition of only 16 runs, Bravo (77) dug in with Kieron Pollard in a stand of 100.

England captain Cook must have been wondering what he had done, when Gayle (53) was in full flow after the Windies were put in on a sunny morning.

But twice two wickets, starting with Gayle's, fell on the same score as the Windies stumbled to 79 for four.

James Anderson and Steve Finn bowled three maidens in the first four overs. But once Gayle had deposited Anderson for his first six, sent thudding into the electronic scoreboard with a pull high over midwicket, four more followed in 10 balls.

When Gayle reached his 50, with an incongruous nudge to midwicket for a single off Bresnan, his near silent opening partner Lendl Simmons was still in single figures.

He seemed to be on the fast track to marking the occasion with a 20th one-day international hundred too, until Graeme Swann won the tightest of lbw decisions against the left-hander.

Bravo's deserved share amounted to eight fours and two sixes from 82 balls, until he skied Anderson and was well-held by Ravi Bopara in the penultimate over.