Pretoria: A sparkling unbeaten stand of 168 between Hashim Amla and AB de Villiers punished a labouring West Indies bowling attack as South Africa went to tea on 225 for three on day one of the opening test at Centurion on Wednesday.
The pair came together with the Proteas in trouble at 57 for three, but after steering the team safely through to lunch, launched their full array of strokes in the afternoon session on an overcast day that should have suited the bowlers.
Amla, captaining the side on home soil for the first time, will resume after the interval on 79 from 128 balls, while De Villiers was marginally quicker in his 85 off 121 balls.
The duo, South Africa`s premier batsmen since the retirement of Jacques Kallis and Graeme Smith in the last 12 months, have added their 168 in 247 balls for the fourth wicket.
Amla did have a big slice of fortune when a delivery from West Indies top performing bowler, Kemar Roach, brushed his off-stump in the first over after lunch, but with not enough force to dislodge the bails.
The stand dug the top-ranked Proteas out of a hole as they lost three wickets on the same score in the morning session after play had been delayed by 30 minutes due to rain.
Put in to bat, South Africa raced to 57 without loss but a fired-up Roach, denied the new ball by captain Denesh Ramdin, produced the line and length the opening bowlers had lacked.
Jerome Taylor and Sheldon Cottrell sprayed the ball either side of the wicket and bowled too short on a slow pitch that allowed openers Alviro Petersen and Dean Elgar to put on 50 inside 10 overs before Roach was introduced.
He induced an edge from Petersen (27) to Devon Smith at first slip, while in the next over a confident-looking Elgar smashed a wide delivery from Cottrell straight to Marlon Samuels in the gully for 28.
A poor few minutes for South Africa got worse when Faf du Plessis feathered an edge off Roach to wicketkeeper Ramdin without scoring.