A.B. de Villiers and Ashwell Prince both hit gritty half centuries on Sunday as South Africa built a first innings lead of 54 over the West Indies on the second day of the third and final Test at Kensington Oval.
South Africa, 46-2 overnight, closed on 285-6 in reply to the home side’s modest 231 all out on the opening day.
De Villiers top-scored with 73 off 189 balls while the left-handed Prince hit an unbeaten 55 off 173 deliveries. The pair shepherded South Africa from the uncertainty of 145-5 just after tea with a determined partnership of 134 for the sixth wicket.
Captain Graeme Smith also supplied a crucial 70 at the top of the order after resuming on 35.
Left-arm spinner Sulieman Benn bowled impressively for the West Indies, finishing with figures of 4-59.
The home team made a bright start to the day when debutant Brandon Bess removed nightwatchman Paul Harris for 11 at 60-3. The lanky pacer found an edge from a tentative defensive stroke and captain Chris Gayle took the catch at first slip.
However, Smith and Jacques Kallis (43) then forged a useful partnership to blunt a disciplined bowling attack, adding 62 for the fourth wicket before Benn cut Smith short 20 minutes before lunch.
Smith, after an innings spanning 115 balls and 158 minutes, prodded forward and gave short-leg a catch off inside edge and pad.
Kallis fell in the first over after the interval, misjudging badly and leaving alone a straight ball from Benn that crashed into his off stump. The veteran right-hander hit four fours off 86 balls.
De Villiers and Prince had to fight off a testing period at the start before their partnership grew in confidence.
De Villiers was twice lucky to survive appeals from the West Indies and Gayle might have rued his decision not to ask for a TV review for either.
The right-hander had scored eight runs when he appeared to nick a bottom edge through to the wicketkeeper off Kemar Roach. While on 42, he survived a leg before off Bess with the second new ball that Hawkeye replays suggested would have been given out had technology been used.
De Villiers arrived at his 50 off 131 balls and Prince reached his, off 134 deliveries, half an hour later.
The pair seemed set to carry their stand to the close but Benn dismissed De Villiers with a quarter of an hour remaining.
The 26-year-old De Villiers, after batting just over four hours, tried to square cut and got a thick bottom edge through to wicketkeeper Denesh Ramdin.
Prince, who hit just three fours, stayed until the end with Mark Boucher (4 not out).
South Africa leads the three-match series 1-0.