Their bowlers, aided by reckless West Indian batting, had given them the early platform for a strong position on the opening day and they then carried their lead to 95 by tea with a seventh-wicket stand of 60 between wicketkeeper Ian Healy and Brendon Julian.
The pair came together 40 minutes into the second session when a spectacular one-handed catch by wicketkeeper Junior Murray off Kenny Benjamin removed Steve Waugh for 65.
At the interval, Julian was 31 and Healy 32, but a rare indiscretion immediately on resumption brought his downfall. Underestimating the off- spin of Carl Hooper he attempted a big hit and was caught at mid-off.
The Australians had resumed at 91 for 2 and each time they seemed likely to strengthen their grip they lost a wicket.
The captain, Mark Taylor, past his half-century, then edged Kenny Benjamin to second slip after 35 minutes. That brought the Waugh twins together, Steve's entry greeted by a chorus of boos, a legacy of his controversial catch to dismiss Brian Lara.
But Steve was unperturbed by the reception and looked in far better touch than his brother, Mark, who was eventually out for 40, caught behind from the best ball of the match from Curtley Ambrose.
Greg Blewett required 19 uncomfortable balls to get off the mark. He was five minutes away from lunch, and Australia one away from levelling the scores, when his injudicious pull stroke off Ambrose was deflected off the top edge to the keeper.
Steve Waugh and Healy carefully put on 36 in a tense period after lunch and when Murray's agility accounted for Waugh, the match seemed evenly poised.
Bobby Simpson, Australia's team manager, will spend seven days in the Queen Elizabeth Hospital here to undergo a series of tests to determine the extent of a thrombosis in his left leg.
(First day; West Indies won toss)
WEST INDIES - First Innings
S C Williams c Taylor b Julian 1
S L Campbell c Healy b Reiffel 0
B C Lara c S Waugh b Julian 65
*R B Richardson c Healy b Julian 0
C L Hooper c Taylor b Julian 60
J C Adams c Warne b McGrath 16
J R Murray c Taylor b McGrath 21
W K M Benjamin c Taylor b Warne 14
C E L Ambrose c Blewett b McGrath 7
C L Walsh c S Waugh b Warne 1
K C G Benjamin not out 0
Extras (b3 w1 nb6) 10
Fall: 1-1 2-5 3-6 4-130 5-152 6-156 7-184 8-193 9-194.
Bowling: Reiffel 11-2-41-1; Julian 12-0-36-4; McGrath 12.1-1-46-3; Warne 12-2-57-2; M Waugh 1-0-12-0.
AUSTRALIA - First Innings
M J Slater c Williams b W Benjamin 18
*M A Taylor c Hooper b K Benjamin 55
D C Boon c W Benjamin b Walsh 20
M E Waugh c Murray b Ambrose 40
S R Waugh not out 65
G S Blewett c Murray b Ambrose 14
I A Healy not out 32
B P Julian not out 31
Total (for 6) 290
Fall: 1-27 2-72 3-121 4-166 5-194.
To bat: P R Reiffel, S K Warne, , G D McGrathk.
Bowling (to date): Ambrose 16-6-34-2;Walsh 16-3-42-1 (nb1); K Benjamin 13-0-56-1; W Benjamin 11-2-35-1; Hooper 6-0-26-0.
Umpires: L Barker and S Venkataraghavan (Ind).Reuse content