Shivnarine Chanderpaul fell agonisingly short of a century before Australian spinner Nathan Lyon destroyed the West Indian lower order to hand the momentum back to the visitors on the third day of the second Test on Tuesday.
Chanderpaul was dismissed for 94 after surviving a dropped catch early in his innings when leading a West Indian fightback with a perfect blend of defence and controlled aggression.
But his gritty performance counted for little at the end of the day after the fragile West Indian batting crumbled and the home side were reduced to 252 for nine at the close, still 59 behind Australia's first innings of 311 in a low scoring match.
"We know the Aussies are better than us and we know we have to give them a challenge but then all these little things go against you," West Indies coach Ottis Gibson said.
"You can't cry over spilt milk, you've got to keep getting yourself up and keep going."
Lyon (5-68) triggered the collapse when he captured five wickets in a devastating spell late in the final session on an increasingly difficult Queen's Park Road pitch.
Chanderpaul, who scored an unbeaten hundred in last week's first Test defeat in Barbados, shared a 130-run partnership with Narsingh Deonarine (55) to give West Indies hope of a first innings lead when the wheels suddenly fell off and they lost five wickets for just 19 runs.
Deonarine was stumped by Matthew Wade shortly after completing his third half-century in his 10th Test then Lyon trapped Chanderpaul lbw with a ball that turned just enough to beat the inside edge.
Darren Sammy (one), Shane Shillingford (four) and Kemar Roach (no score) then followed in quick succession, leaving Carlton Baugh (17 not out) and Fidel Edwards (no score) to battle through to the close.
Chanderpaul, a thorn in Australian sides for years, had been given a life on eight when the Australian skipper Michael Clarke failed to grasp a difficult chance at slip that deflected off Wade.
The unorthodox lefthander then made the Australians pay for the missed opportunity with a watchful 217-ball innings that featured 10 boundaries and a six, off leftarm spinner Michael Beer.
Deonarine also had a close shave early in his innings, scrambling home by a whisker to avoid being run out on the last ball before lunch.
The day began in bizarre circumstances when play was delayed for 20 minutes because of a power outage.
The two teams walked on to the field as scheduled but were told by match referee Jeff Crowe to retreat back to the dressing room before a ball was bowled because there was no live television footage.
Australia's frontline bowlers failed to make any inroads in the morning session and it was left to part-time seamer Mike Hussey to make the initial breakthrough, removing Darren Bravo for 38.
Australia did not get another wicket until after tea when the second session was interrupted for around 90 minutes because of a passing rain shower.
"That's the beauty of test cricket, because it is tough and it is five days of hard grind, especially on a surface like this when runs are very difficult to come by," Gibson said.
"It would have been nice for Shiv to go on a get a hundred and still be there at the end because obviously he played fantastically well for us to get in the position we're in."
Australia: 1st innings 311
West Indies: 1st innings (overnight 49-3)
A. Barath lbw b Beer 7
K. Brathwaite lbw b Hilfenhaus 0
K. Powell lbw b Pattinson 19
D. Bravo lbw b Hussey 38
S. Chanderpaul lbw b Lyon 94
N. Deonarine st Wade b Lyon 55
C. Baugh not out 17
D. Sammy c Hussey b Lyon 1
S. Shillingford c Cowan b Lyon 4
K. Roach c Wade b Lyon 0
F. Edwards not out 0
Extras (lb-8 w-1 nb-8) 17;
Total (for nine wickets, 104 overs) 252;
Fall of wickets: 1-0, 2-26, 3-38, 4-100, 5-230, 6-231, 7-237, 8-241, 9-249;
Bowling: Beer 25-9-52-1, Hilfenhaus 16-4-39-1, Lyon 29-9-68-5, Pattinson 11-2-40-1 (nb-4), Hussey 6-1-19-1 (w-1), Watson 12-5-14-0, Warner 3-1-9-0, Clarke 2-0-3-0.