AB de Villiers has said he was "pretty upset" at being asked by the umpires to explain the condition of one of the balls during South Africa's narrow defeat against England at the Ageas Bowl.

Rob Bailey and Chris Gaffaney, the standing umpires, spoke to de Villiers before the start of the 34th over in England's innings, bowled by Keshav Maharaj. De Villiers was animated in his response on the field and the ball was not changed; afterwards, South Africa's captain said he felt it was being implied that his players were at fault for scuffing up the ball.

"The umpires felt the condition of the ball changed," de Villiers said, "in a way, making me feel that we are responsible. I was quite upset about that. I don't know what else I can say, I was pretty upset. It's done and dusted now, nothing happened, there were no fines given or anything like that.

"I honestly told the umpires we have nothing to do with the condition of ball, except for the fact that Maharaj bowled five overs on the trot from that end. The ball generally scuffs up when the spinner bowls a few overs. I expressed my views about that and we move on."

Asked if he felt that the implication from the umpires was that his side had been engaging in ball-tampering, de Villiers replied: "Yes. That's the feeling that I got and I expressed that I was quite upset about it. But like I said, no further steps were taken from both parties.

"If I can give my five cents, I felt it was a bad ball and that happens sometimes. The leather comes off and you do get that. Unfortunately the umpires didn't agree. [But] nothing happened, generally there's a warning or a fine, none of that happened, which tells me they realised we were innocent in this case."

South Africa were sanctioned last year for altering the condition of the ball in a Test against Australia in Hobart, after their captain, Faf du Plessis, was filmed by television cameras with a mint in his mouth when applying saliva to shine the ball. In 2013, during a series against Pakistan, du Plessis also pleaded guilty to a charge of ball-tampering after rubbing the ball near the zipper on his trousers.

Eoin Morgan, England's captain, said his team were unaware of any suggestion that the ball had been scuffed up. "Normally, if there's any dispute about the ball, they change it straight away," he said.

The umpiring team of Bailey, Gaffaney, the third umpire, Rod Tucker, and match referee, Andy Pycroft, were engaged in their customary debriefing after the game, with no suggestion that the matter would be taken further.

Having seen his team lose out off the final ball by two runs, de Villiers praised England's bowlers for closing out victory and the series. With ten balls to go, South Africa needed ten runs to win but Jake Ball and Mark Wood conceded just six singles and a leg bye to deny David Miller and Chris Morris.

"I thought the boys played a great hand at the end there, to get us so close," de Villiers said. "I got a bit excited, thought we had it in the bag. Got to give credit to the last two bowlers of England, who finished there, they showed some great skill and good plans.

"Unfortunately it didn't go our way, we didn't get the lucky bounce - if you want to call it that, a little edge over the keeper. We were just waiting for one little break and it would be game over. The boys gave it their best shot. Chris and David played a great knock, built a great partnership but unfortunately we couldn't cross the line."

Alan Gardner is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo. @alanroderick