Johannesburg: Virat Kohli on Sunday said the Indian team was 'shocked' that the hosts did not go for victory in the dying moments of the match, which ended in an exciting draw.
The Proteas fell short by eight runs in a pulsating Test match, finishing at 450 for 7, while chasing 458 for victory at Wanderers.
"Everyone was pretty shocked honestly, we didn't think that they would stop going for the score because with eight runs an over and with Philander striking the ball pretty well and he can bat, we have seen that in the past," Kohli, who was adjudged Man of the Match for scoring 215 runs in two innings, said.
"I don't know what happened. We had our plans and that was going for the wickets but to see them not going for that score was pretty surprising for all of us.
"In the end, it was a very enjoyable Test match. It was a fair finish for this Test match. The way this match has been played over the last four days, pretty competitive with both teams coming back pretty strongly in one session or the other, it was a fair finish," Kohli added, outlining team India's happiness at the draw achieved.
India were denied by Faf du Plessis and AB de Villiers as they shared a 205 run partnership for the fifth wicket. Both batsmen went on to complete their respective hundreds as South Africa edged closer to the win. But their dismissal changed the match.
"It was a weird situation in today's play from the beginning. There were a lot of ups and downs throughout the day. Early on we got two quick wickets in the first session and we thought that another couple of wickets in the second session would have been perfect for us but AB and Faf batted brilliantly, especially Faf not having scored runs in the first innings. To bat under pressure like that shows so much character.
Of course AB has always been a world-class player and there is no doubt about it."
"Both of them batted brilliantly and AB's dismissal just opened up things for us and then when we got JP (Duminy) out, we thought we will win the game. Then Vernon (Philander) came and struck a few boundaries and then we thought that we are on the back-foot again.
"When we ran out Faf we thought we will win again and it was just too much going on in the end," said Kohli, describing the emotional roller-coaster that was the final day's play.
"We showed great character to come back taking three wickets in the end. This team never backs off. Obviously you are playing against the number one team in the world and you can expect that from them. It is not easy to defeat them in a Test match and they keep coming back. But to come back that way and get those wickets in that last session is commendable," he added.
Team India's hopes were really dashed when the post-lunch session was played out by Du Plessis and de Villiers. That proved to be the difference in the end, as the latter few wickets fell quickly once those two got out.
"It was a pretty tough situation to be in and I feel sorry for the captain who is in that sort of situation and you know MS Dhoni was pretty good in handling that and that's his biggest quality, his calmness in those situations. He never let the guys believe that the things are going into a desperate mode. He kept the guys pretty calm and we knew one or two mistakes are going to open up things and we came back beautifully," he said.
Ultimately, in a see-saw Test match, India were able to come out on top after being ahead of the game and their opponents for the majority of this game. Perhaps it will give the team a lot of confidence going into the second Test at Durban, starting December 26, especially after they were written-off before the series.
"The kind of team that we have now, with a lot of young players in this team, we can be proud of how we played this Test match. The guys have showed character all through-out and if you see the first innings, we showed character when we batted and then with the ball. We played brilliant in the second innings and dominated four days of the Test match.
"Every single person in this team is hungry to go out there and win a game for their country and their team and that is the biggest factor that has changed the way we played in the last one year. We are a group of inexperienced cricketers, but smart cricketers, and we are very desperate to perform," he signed off.