Cape Town, South Africa: Leon Johnson and Denesh Ramdin hit half-centuries as the West Indies proved the equal of South Africa on day one of the third and final test at Newlands on Friday.
The West Indies was prone to devastating batting collapses in the first two tests, but made a steady 276-6 after winning the toss and electing to bat first.
The biggest disappointment for the tourists was their batsmen's inability to convert promising scores into something more meaningful, with Devon Smith and Marlon Samuels dismissed just short of 50, and Johnson and Ramdin falling shortly after reaching the mark.
There could be less criticism of the collective effort, which was absent in previous tests when wholesale collapses were common.
“It would have to be our best day of the series,” Johnson said. “We're not totally happy about guys not carrying on to get the three-figure scores, but as a team we have to be happy to get to 270 for the loss of six wickets.
“It's the first time in the series that we've batted out 90 overs so we're pretty happy with that.”
Offspinner Simon Harmer's start to his test career was the highlight of the day for South Africa, as he replaced legspinner Imran Tahir in the home side and grabbed three key wickets on his way to figures of 3-67.
Harmer was picked with one eye on the future, with South Africa playing its last test before tours of spin-friendly Bangladesh and India, and did his prospects no harm.
He was introduced in the final half-hour before lunch, and struck in his fourth over when he slid one through Smith's defenses to dismiss him for 47.
“I needed to find the right pace and the right length - I was a bit full to start with - and then in that final over before lunch I found my lengths a lot better,” Harmer said.
“The last ball before lunch I obviously wanted to make sure I was attacking the stumps, and he broke the golden rule of not cutting an offspinner, and the ball clipped the top of middle, which was quite nice.”
While Johnson survived a tough spell from Dale Steyn and battled on to his second test fifty, he became Harmer's second victim when he was trapped lbw for 54 after the lunch break.
Harmer also played a role in the dismissal of Samuels for 43, allowing him one run in three overs to induce a rash shot that saw the batsman hit medium-pacer Stiaan van Zyl to cover, giving Van Zyl his first test wicket.
When the offspinner had senior batsman Shivnarine Chanderpaul stumped for 9 off the first ball after tea, the West Indies lower order appeared ripe for the picking at 172-5.
However a partnership of 94 between Ramdin and the recalled Jermaine Blackwood provided some much-needed stability, before the second new ball accounted for the captain.
Steyn made the first breakthrough of the day when he had Kraigg Brathwaite caught at gully for 7, and with five overs left in the day he had Ramdin caught and bowled for 53 to claim his 391st test victim.
The wicket took Steyn past Makhaya Ntini on the list of South Africa's highest wicket-takers, leaving only Shaun Pollock ahead of him.
Blackwood reached stumps unbeaten on 45, while Jason Holder was on 5 not out.
South Africa leads the series 1-0 after winning the first test by an innings and 220 runs.