Johannesburg, Dec 23: His team abandoned plans to go for a win after coming extremely close to upstaging India but South African cricket captain Graeme Smith insisted that the last-minute change in strategy was not prompted by the fear of loss.
In a pulsating finish to the first Test here yesterday, South Africa fell short by only eight runs in what could have been the highest ever fourth innings' run-chase.
Instead, it was a drawn match, as both teams head to Durban for the second Test on December 26 with the series at 0-0.
The Proteas' skipper was pointedly asked whether the hosts were scared of losing and hence squandered a position of strength.
"I don't think it was that (fear of losing)," he replied.
"We were on target. But even at lunch, we didn't believe we will get as close as we did. We were just batting, trying to make sure we build a partnership. We knew to save the game we needed a session without losing any wickets and we got that after lunch."
Smith said centurion and set batsman Faf du Plessis' run out changed the scenario slightly for the batsmen out there in the middle. "...with Faf getting run-out in the final session after AB (de Villiers) got out, the batsmen in the middle thought that it was in the best interest of the team to play for a draw," he explained.
"Morne Morkel was struggling to stand (after twisting his ankle on day three) and with Imran Tahir, we don't really know what we could have got. So the team has to support and believe in the decision Vernon (Philander) and Dale (Steyn) made in the middle," he added.
Du Plessis scored his third Test hundred while de Villiers notched up his 18th Test century as they put up 205 runs for the fifth wicket. But they both fell in the last session of the match, allowing India to come back and hold on for a draw.
"The message to the batsmen was to set the game up for the last over. Then, there were a couple of maidens bowled, which made it difficult. We needed to give Vernon an opportunity to win us the game, I think he was the guy that probably would have done that," he said.
"It never happened. At that stage you can't send out messages between overs. That is not allowed. Ultimately the strength of this team is that there are good decision makers."