Port-of-Spain, Trinidad:South Africa was grateful for half centuries from Mark Boucher, AB de Villiers and Ashwell Prince on Friday as they recorded 352 all out at the close of the second day of the opening test at the Queen's Park Oval.
The tourists, 70-3 overnight, slipped to 107-5 within the first hour before the middle-order trio resuscitated the innings.
De Villiers, who hit 68, shared a sixth-wicket stand of 122 with left-hander Prince, who compiled 57.
Wicket-keeper Boucher then top-scored with 69 and received able lower-order support from Dale Steyn, who struck an enterprising 39.
Left-arm spinner Sulieman Benn snared career-best figures of 5-120 while off-spinner Shane Shillingford claimed 3-96 on debut.
After enjoying the better of a rain-hit opening day, the hosts again began brightly under sunny skies as Benn and Shillingford each claimed early wickets.
Nightwatchman Paul Harris swatted a six off Shillingford but fell shortly afterward to Benn when he miscued to extra cover.
The 27-year-old Shillingford then claimed the prize wicket of Jacques Kallis for 28.
Kallis stepped too far across his stumps and was plumb leg before as he missed a big off-break.
De Villiers and Prince confidently rebuilt the innings, recording a half-century stand to reach lunch at 190-5. Prince survived a confident caught behind appeal off Pascal when on 35 but there were few other alarms.
Their stand blossomed after the break as both players notched fifties. De Villiers arrived at his landmark first, off 106 balls, while Prince soon followed, after facing 98 deliveries.
West Indies captain Chris Gayle finally made the breakthrough with his first delivery of the match. Prince, after striking two fours and a six off 119 balls, tickled a catch to backward short leg to leave South Africa on 229-6.
Gayle brought back Benn immediately and the lanky 28-year-old soon claimed the wicket of De Villiers, edging a drive through to wicket-keeper Denesh Ramdin. De Villiers scored five boundaries in an innings spanning 145 deliveries.
West Indies sensed a swift end at 238-7 but Boucher and Steyn provided more steely resistance in an eighth-wicket partnership worth 86.
Their stand was closing in on three figures when Benn beat an advancing Steyn in the flight and had him stumped. The fast bowler struck four fours and two sixes off 73 balls.
Benn, in his 13th test, celebrated his second five-wicket haul a few overs later when Morne Morkel missed a sweep to be bowled with the score on 330.
Boucher and last man Lonwabo Tsotsobe contributed another 22 runs for the last wicket before Bravo ended the innings and the day.
Boucher, who cracked four fours and a six off 146 balls, fell trying for another maximum as Nelon Pascal took a fine catch on the long-off boundary.