Kraigg Brathwaite and Marlon Samuels hit centuries in a record stand before the West Indies collapsed on the fourth day of the second Test against South Africa at St George`s Park on Monday.
At the end of a day when less than three hours of play was possible because of rain, the West Indies were teetering at 275 for nine in reply to South Africa`s first innings total of 417 for eight declared.
Brathwaite made 106 and Samuels hit 101 before both were out in successive overs. They put on 176, a record third wicket partnership for the West Indies against South Africa, beating the 160 by Shivnarine Chanderpaul and Brian Lara in Durban in 1998/99.
Their dismissals sparked an all-too familiar collapse. Shivnarine Chanderpaul and captain Denesh Ramdin added 27 for the fifth wicket to take the total to 260 before five wickets fell for 15 runs in five overs.
Despite the collapse, Samuels said he felt the West Indies had put up a competitive performance.
"If we took those chances (in South Africa`s innings) it would have been a totally different game," he said.
Samuels said it was a particularly satisfying century after he had been out for 94 at the same venue seven years ago.
"I told myself when I get to the nineties I must be a little more positive."
He showed his intent by hitting a huge six off leg-spinner Imran Tahir to get to 96, then hitting a boundary off the same bowler to reach his hundred.
"To get a hundred against the number one team in the world and a world-class bowling attack is a wonderful feeling," said Samuels, who praised Brathwaite, his 22-year-old partner in the record stand.
"He`s a very strong person mentally. It used to be said that he`s too slow. Now he`s improving and scoring a little faster. It`s good to see an opening batsman with determination."
Brathwaite, 22, confirmed that he is an opening batsman of rare talent and composure as he saw off South Africa`s trio of world-class bowlers, Dale Steyn, Vernon Philander and Morne Morkel, in making his third Test century in his 16th Test.
Although he gave two difficult chances, he showed a sound defence and played some impressive drives, particularly off the back foot, in hitting 106 off 186 balls with 12 fours.
Samuels made 101, his sixth Test century, off 160 balls with 14 fours and a six before he was leg before wicket to Vernon Philander. Brathwaite followed in the next over when he edged a drive against Morkel to second slip.
Rain and a wet outfield delayed the start of play until after lunch and the afternoon`s play was interrupted for half an hour when what had been light drizzle became heavier.
Then, with South Africa looking to finish off the West Indian innings and stretch their lead with a potential one-and-a-half hours of play remaining, the rain returned 50 minutes after tea.The rest of the West Indian batting will have inspired little confidence in the touring team`s dressing room ahead of the third and final Test, which starts in Cape Town on Friday.
Ramdin and Chanderpaul fell to Tahir in the space of three deliveries, Chanderpaul in bizarre circumstances when a top-spinner went between his legs to bowl him.
Jason Holder was caught behind off Morkel and Benn drove at a googly from Tahir and was well caught at slip by Alviro Petersen.
With rain falling, Kenroy Peters was run out by a superb throw from Steyn at midwicket. As the batsman made his way back to the pavilion, the umpires conferred and took the remaining players off the field.
Morkel finished the day with four wickets for 69 runs, while Tahir, who had taken none for 92 at tea, had three for 108.