While Proteas captain Graeme Smith defended the decision of his side to bat out the last few overs for a draw, India were surprised by the approach of the South Africans, according to Virat Kohli.
"Everyone was pretty shocked honestly," said Kohli after the game.
South Africa ended on 450 for seven on Sunday, eight runs short of the 458 target set by India in the first of two Test matches, played at the Wanderers in Johannesburg.
Had South Africa been successful in their run chase, it would have been the highest ever total in scored in a fourth innings to win a Test.
Faf du Plessis who was at the crease for more than six-and-a-half hours for his 134 runs, was run out 3.1 overs before the end of the match.
After his demise, South Africa chose to defend the draw and bat out the day.
"We didn't think they would stop going for the score, because with eight runs an over and with [Vernon] Philander striking the ball pretty well, they had a chance."
'He can bat'
Philander scored 25 not out, and farmed the strike when No. 9 Dale Steyn came to the wicket.
Kohli said he had expected Philander – who scored 59 in the first innings &ndsah; to push for the win.
"He can bat, we have seen that in the past, 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."
It was an enthralling day of Test cricket where the odds were always stacked against South Africa, who started the day needing 320 to win with eight wickets in hand.
"It was a weird situation to be in today, from the beginning. It was sort of strange too to have those ups and downs throughout the day," Kohli said.
The two wickets in the first session would have given India confidence but Du Plessis and AB de Villiers (103) went on to share the highest ever fifth-wicket partnership in the fourth innings of a Test match, amassing 205 runs together at the crease.
"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." – Sapa
Fans were not impressed with the outcome, with some even calling for an investigation into possible match fixing.
Vern/Steyn decided the outcome of the test. How disappointed AB and Faf must be that their heroics came to nothing. Play to win! #SSCricket
– Rick Duvenage (@RickDuvenage) December 23, 2013
When the fear of losing overcomes your desire for success you need to look at yourself and ask what's the point of playing sport #SSCricket
— Cameron Grinyer (@camgrin08) December 22, 2013
— David Tenowitz (@SocialDav) December 22, 2013
Coward move by the Proteas to hold out for a draw rather than go for the Win. Reducing interest in test cricket 1 draw at a time #SSCricket
— Shaun Parsons (@shaunsoulo) December 22, 2013
Thuli Madonsela must intervene somewhere there at Cricket South Africa someone got paid, this was pure match fixing #SScricket
— Thabo09 (@Thabo09) December 22, 2013