“Credit to India. We had to find a way to keep ourselves in this Test match,” Smith said.
“I think we played extremely good cricket and we showed a lot of strength to keep ourselves in the game, not to just fade away and give India the win, so credit to our guys.”
Chasing a world record 458 runs to win in the fourth innings, the home side reached 450/7 and fell eight runs short of a historic victory.
Had they won, South Africa would have eclipsed the record, set by the West Indies against Australia at St Johns in 2003, for the highest fourth-innings total to win a Test.
They nonetheless scored the third highest total in the fourth innings of a Test match, with three wickets to spare.
The second and final match of the series will start at Kingsmead on Thursday.
“We wanted to go to Durban with an opportunity to win the series and I think we’ve done that now,” Smith said.
Despite looking set to win the game on the morning of the final day, India captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni was satisfied with the draw.
“I’m very happy with the performance and there are plenty of things we can talk about,” Dhoni said.
“We didn’t have much time to prepare for this series, and there were situations in this game where we could have lost it easily, but it was a big learning curve for our fast bowlers and overall it was a good learning curve for us. I think it was a good game.”
Dhoni believed his side would be ready to tackle the hosts next week in an attempt to secure a whitewash in the two-match series.
“We get plenty of support in Durban,” he said of the match lying ahead.”It’s important to rest well, especially for our fast bowlers, but we’ll be ready for the next match.” – firstname.lastname@example.org