Johannesburg - Proteas T20 captain Hashim Amla says he cannot pinpoint why his team under-performed in their loss to Zimbabwe, in the Twenty20 tri-series final on Sunday.
The home side coasted to a nine wicket victory at the Harare Sports Club to shock the much-fancied South Africans.
"I can't quite but my finger on it," said Amla.
"But I think it's a combination of early season rustiness coming through, but at the same token we have to acknowledge that Zimbabwe played really well.
"Their batters hit good form and struck the ball really well, they played better than us."
The Proteas were unable to put in the performances when it mattered, but certain players raised their profiles for selection, with only three matches to play until the ICC World Twenty20 in September in Sri Lanka.
Faf du Plessis showed off his all-round capabilities; Wayne Parnell proved that he can perform under the pressure, with Richard Levi showing that he is more than a one-hit-wonder.
A key area for improvement is in the bowling department, where inconsistency was exploited.
"The whole purpose of the tour was to have a look at the guys who are at the next tier.
"Some guys performed really well. Lopsy [Lonwabo Tsotsobe] bowled a few good spells up front in a couple of the games.
"Parney [Wayne Parnell] struggled but came back strong; [Chris] Morris bowled well and Faf [du Plessis] bowled his full quota really well."
Amla said the selectors would now have a better idea of the fringe players moving forward.
"I think the selectors will have a sense of who they think can fulfil the roles underneath Dale [Steyn] and Morne [Morkel], and in that sense there is a lot to take out of this tour and in many ways maybe it is mission accomplished."
Amla also said the short tour of Zimbabwe, despite not yielding results, provided some good lessons for the team.
"The tour has been a wake-up call and a learning experience, which will give the selectors and players alike, an indication of where improvement is needed."