Tendulkar's innings - his first 99 in a one-day international career spanning 386 matches and featuring 41 hundreds - couldn't prevent a four-wicket defeat in the opening fixture of a three-game series against the Proteas, all taking place at the Belfast venue.
But Dravid, who helped Tendulkar add 158 for the third wicket while making 74 himself, was buoyed by his team-mate's form.
"He's very keen to have a good tour of England," Dravid said of his fellow 34-year-old.
"He does realise, along with a lot of us, that this probably will be the last time he will be touring in the UK."
Tendulkar's innings left him 50 short of becoming the first batsman in history to score 15,000 one-day international runs - a landmark he could reach during the remaining games of this series.
And if he doesn't rewrite the record books in Belfast, there is every chance he'll do it in the seven one-day internationals against England in August and September that follow a three-Test series due to start at Lord's on July 19.
This latest innings was not exactly vintage Tendulkar. For a start, it lasted 143 balls - only four times in his limited overs international career has he batted for longer.
And on each of those occasions Tendulkar went onto a large century (the lowest was 141 not out against West Indies in Kuala Lumpur in September 2006).
But there were signs with some of his 12 fours on Tuesday that Tendulkar, who as a 19-year-old scored his first Test hundred, against England, in 1990 at Old Trafford, had retained his touch despite the passing of the years.
He struck Charl Langeveldt square through the offside off the backfoot and then drove the medium-pacer straight down the ground with the minimum amount of visible effort.
However, age appared to be catching up with Tendulkar when, going for a risky second that would have given him his hundred, he was run out by a throw from Morne van Wyk to wicket-keeper Mark Boucher.
Nevertheless, an upbeat Dravid said: "It's a good start. It's the early part of the tour. We are coming from 45 degrees (heat) and totally different wickets and I thought for the batsmen to hit some early form is a good sign."
At the other end of the age spectrum to Dravid and Tendulkar is 18-year-old leg-spinner Piyush Chawla who, in only his third one-day international, took an impressive three for 47 in 10 overs in conditions stacked against slow bowlers.
His wickets included that of van Wyk, who made 44 before lobbing a catch to cover after getting a leading edge to a genuine leg-break while playing across the line, and star batsman Herschelle Gibbs, out for five when bowled by a ball of full length.
Afterwards Dravid praised Chawla, the successor to Anil Kumble following the leg-spinner's one-day international retirement after the World Cup.
"I think he acquitted himself very well, considering the conditions. It's not a track that really helps the spinners too much, it was really cold and for a leg-spinner it wasn't easy to grip the ball.
"But the more he can bowl in these conditions the more he is going to learn and it's going to be good for his growth and development as a cricketer."
That India took Tuesday's match into the last over said much for their resilience after more than half their 14-man squad were struck down with 'flu.
Wicket-keeper batsman Mahendra Singh Dhoni, the first to fall ill, fast bowler Shanthakumaran Sreesanth and medium-pacer Ajit Agarkar, all of whom were among the worst affected, missed the series opener.