Ian Bell defied a broken jaw and rose to the challenge of replacing Kevin Pietersen, as his second one-day international hundred underpinned England's 114-run win over West Indies on the Duckworth/Lewis method.
Bell (126) made the same score - unbeaten last time - as in his only previous hundred, on this same ground five years ago, in a total of 288 for six in the first NatWest Series match at the Ageas Bowl.
West Indies' own substitute opener Dwayne Smith (56) then gave England plenty to think about - pulling his second six, off Stuart Broad, to go with six fours and bring up his 50 in only 38 balls - but his power-packed team-mates failed to deliver, bowled out for 172 with more than 14 overs unused.
Bell, opening for the first time since last year's World Cup, produced a chanceless innings of trademark timing and placement - with 12 fours and one six from 117 balls - after England were put in under cloudy skies.
By the time Bell mistimed an attempted 'paddle' at a slow full-toss from Dwayne Bravo, to loop a simple catch and become Denesh Ramdin's fourth victim of the day, England were in prime position to attack the last 10 overs. Five wickets were down already, but Craig Kieswetter and the tail made sure that did not compromise the addition of 68 more runs.
Bell was passed fit to be Pietersen's successor at the top of the order after on Friday edging a pull into his face in indoor practice. Some 10 stitches and an X-ray later he ensured an opener reached three figures in each of England's last five ODI innings, only to lose Eoin Morgan and then go himself at the end of it.
In the West Indies' reply opener Lendl Simmons chopped James Anderson down on to his stumps. But Smith, in place of Gayle, took a huge pulled six and two fours from one Steve Finn over to give the tourists' run chase early momentum in a half-century stand with Ramdin.
After Tim Bresnan (four for 34) eliminated the second-wicket pair in the space of five balls, however, Smith edging a very short ball behind as he aimed to pull again and Ramdin lbw to one that nipped in slightly off the seam, Finn hit Bravo in front too.
Kieron Pollard cut Stuart Broad hard to point - where Morgan took a flying catch away to his left - and in the absence of specialist batsman Darren Bravo, who injured his groin in the field, from 127 for five the West Indies' remaining power hitters had far too much to do.
They returned from an hour-long rain break, with a revised target of 287 in 25 overs still available - and after Samuels fell to a chip to midwicket, West Indies' miserable day was soon complete as they lost their last nine wickets for 77 runs.