"Well in hindsight, we lost by 70-odd, if we had taken chances in the first innings, they would have been 220," said Kohli in the post-match presentation.
"Losing wickets in bunches we something have to plug in. We were in the game for the three days and it was a wonderful match to be part of. We would have taken that if someone told 208 would be the target," the captain was honest in his admission.
Kohli felt India needed a batsman to score a 70 or 80 in the second innings.
"It was a great effort but we needed someone to get a 75 or 80. 20s or 30s were not enough. They were a bowler short (Dale Steyn) but they pitched the balls in the right areas and bowled their hearts out. We need to rectify our mistakes also."
Not having a single big partnership (save Bhuvneshwar Kumar-Hardik Pandya's 99 for 8th wicket in the first innings) is something to worry about for the team.
"This game is all about partnerships, and crucial runs, and they did better. The bowlers learnt pretty quickly and did well in the second innings. We are still feeling good about how we went about this Test match.
"The mindset really matters when you travel away from home. You need to be positive in defence and leaving, and cash in on scoring," the straight-talking skipper said.
He was all praise for Pandya, whose 93 was a face-saver in the first innings.
"We believe in Pandya. He always wants to do well, even away from home. He showed a lot of character and the knock was brilliant."
His opposite number Faf du Plessis was happy how his team responded during tough periods.
"Every single time in this Test, we had to stand up in tough periods. The way we responded was brilliant. Even with them getting to a decent start, we stuck to our guns.
"The first morning, we expected it to move around, but quite a bit of damage was done in the first hour.
"I thought 270 was par but Pandya then took risks and it came off. Once again, the bowlers stepped up. The plan was to try and get 200 runs and have a lead of 350 and have a crack at them.
"We were surprised how much the ball was doing. It was like a day one pitch. Green, again," Du Plessis said.
The former Chennai Super Kings batsman is happy that they have been able to put opposition under pressure first up.
"It is really important to put the opposition under pressure in a three-match series. Dale (Steyn) would have been a real handful. We feel sorry for him and wish him a speedy recovery."
Man of the match Vernon Philander said that India had caught them off-guard on first morning but 286 was a fantastic score.
"Coming to Newlands, it is generally slow, but they caught us off guard in the first morning. It was a wonderful effort with the bat from us in the first innings. What better crowd, what better conditions you can ask for!"
Philander complimented Kagiso Rabada and Morne Morkel for keeping things tight in Steyn's absence....