South Africa were scenting victory in the opening Test at Queen's Park Oval after removing the West Indies' two most accomplished batsmen Shivnarine Chanderpaul and Chris Gayle before tea on Sunday.
Jacques Kallis removed Chanderpaul for 15 shortly after lunch and Morne Morkel added the scalp of Gayle for 73 as West Indies, chasing what would be a record-breaking 457 for victory, reached 139 for four in their second innings at tea on the fourth day.
The South Africans had declared during the morning on 206 for four in their second innings after their captain Graeme Smith had fallen for the top score of 90.
Morkel and Dale Steyn then made early inroads into the brittle West Indies batting to leave the home team on 62 for two at lunch.
After the interval, South Africa were held up, when Chanderpaul and Gayle, the captain, added 55 for the third wicket.
Gayle was his usual aggressive self bringing up his 50 from 62 balls when he whipped Lonwabo Tsotsobe through square leg for the fifth of his nine fours.
Kallis provided South Africa with the breakthrough when Chanderpaul edged to AB de Villiers at second slip to leave West Indies 94 for three.
Morkel, using his height to discomfort the batsmen, then trapped Gayle lbw with the second ball of a new spell. The West Indies captain spent 155 minutes at the crease and also struck one six from 106 balls.
South Africa continued to press their advantage but they lost their right to refer umpiring decisions when it was confirmed their appeal for lbw of left-hander Narsingh Deonarine was misplaced.
Video umpire Simon Taufel also spared Dwayne Bravo from another cheap surrender when the all-rounder came charging down the pitch to left-arm spinner Paul Harris.
Bravo appeared to get a thin edge off his pad to Hashim Amla at forward short leg.Taufel, much to the consternation of the South Africans, felt the video replays were inconclusive, and Bravo lived to fight on.
Before lunch, Morkel struck in the second over of the West Indies' chase, when opener Travis Dowlin was lbw playing back and across for one, another decision referred to Taufel.
Dale Steyn added to the West Indies' misery, when left-hander Brendan Nash edged a flat-footed drive, and was caught behind for 13.
Earlier, Smith was one of two scalps for Sulieman Benn, who was the pick of the West Indies' bowlers with three for 74 from 25 overs, and ended with match figures of eight for 194.
Kallis fell lbw to the beanpole left-arm spinner in the second full over of the day for his overnight score of 40, after he too, unsuccessfully consulted the video umpire.
Then Smith, looking on course for his 21st Test hundred, was bowled behind his legs, when he failed to sweep a delivery from Sulieman Benn. He batted just over three and a half hours, faced 172 balls, and struck seven fours.
South Africa have dominated West Indies in Tests since their re-entry into international cricket in 1991, following isolation.
They have won 14, and lost three of the 22 matches between the two sides, and two of the wins came at Port of Spain in 2001 and 2005 in the two Tests the sides have played here.
The two sides will also play Tests in St Kitts (June 18-22) and Barbados (June 26-30).