Alastair Cook admitted a braver captain may have declared earlier on day five of the first Test, but said he "didn't want to give India a sniff" after England ran out of time to claim an unlikely win in Rajkot.
Cook (130) made a superb 30th Test century on day five and debutant Haseeb Hameed was out for 82 as the tourists declared on 260-3, setting India a highly improbable 310 to win from a minimum of 49 overs.
Adil Rashid took 3-64 after claiming four wickets in the first innings to give England hope of taking a series lead, but a composed unbeaten 49 from captain Virat Kohli and Ravindra Jadeja's 32 not out ensured it was honours even.
India had been in trouble at 71-4, but were 172-6 when Cook shook hands with Kohli in the final over and the England skipper defended his decision to bat on earlier in the day.
"We got ourselves in a position to force a win and did not quite get over the line, but it was a good Test match and everyone can be proud of how they played," said the prolific opening batsman.
"We proved to everyone else we can play. As I said at the beginning of this tour we have some talented players. Ben Stokes, Moeen Ali and Joe Root are world-class cricketers.
"It was a good toss to win, but we showed good character to score those runs. We then did 160 overs of hard graft in the field to keep India behind.
"The reason why we did not [declare] was that I didn't want to give India a sniff. Batting just to survive is a lot different to say chasing 260-270. On the same wicket we were 180 for nought.
"It was not a minefield. I am sure a braver person would have set 240, but I thought it was a fair declaration in the first game of the series."
The second game of the series begins in Visakhapatnam on Thursday.