The scorecards will tell you that South Africa A won just one of their six completed games in India, but this tour wasn't about the results. It was about Vision 2019: sorting out life after AB de Villiers and Morne Morkel, and identifying potential candidates in the lead-up to the World Cup. ESPNcricinfo looks back at the major talking points from the tour
Second ready for the second wicketkeeper's spot?
There's a lot to like about Knights' wicketkeeper-batsman Rudi Second: he not only displayed the tightest defensive technique among the South African batsmen in the four-dayers but also latched onto the loose balls. Having racked up the runs in the domestic competitions at home, Second pressed his case further for a national call-up by making a pair of 94s that nearly hauled the South Africans to a remarkable come-from-behind draw at the Chinnaswamy Stadium.
While he came in at 93 for 4 in the first innings and launched a counterattack, he kept dead-batting India A's bowlers along with Shaun von Berg in the second dig. They held off the Indian bowlers for more than 50 overs on a fourth-day pitch before Yuzvendra Chahal and the seamers broke through their resistance and secured a tense win for the hosts, with seven balls to spare.
Second was also impressive behind the stumps, taking five catches and effecting a stumping in the four-dayers. He also showed excellent footwork in the subsequent quadrangular series. Case in point: when Khaya Zondo pitched a full ball on middle and got it to turn down the leg side, Australia A's Marnus Labuschagne flubbed a sweep and lobbed it off the thigh, with Second niftily moving to his left, diving full length and collecting the ball.
Quinton de Kock is the first-choice keeper in the national side, but Second has done enough to narrow the gap between himself and Heinrich Klaasen, who is currently the reserve wicketkeeper-batsman.
Batting: a mixed bag
In contrast to Second, the rest of the batsmen reached out for balls outside off like a stalker chases its prey, particularly in the first four-dayer. No less than 14 South African wickets in that match were caught by the keeper or in the cordon. While the South Africans fared better in the second four-dayer in Alur, the one-day line-up suffered collapses against Australia A as well as in the third-place contest against India A.
A part of this is because South Africa don't have a meticulous A-team structure like India or Australia do, but there were still some positives on the batting front. Twenty-three-year-old Cobras batsman Zubayr Hamza, who was on his first tour to India, made an unbeaten 104 in the warm-up fixture and followed it with a brace fifties in the four-dayers.
Zondo, the captain, struck a fine hundred around a batting meltdown against Australia A and showed he could be a middle-order option for the senior team that will be without Faf du Plessis for the upcoming limited-overs series against Zimbabwe.
The second-string spinners need more fine-tuning
Legspinner von Berg, offspinner Dane Piedt and left-arm spinner Senuran Muthusamy had previously been part of spin camps in India, but they struggled with their lines and lengths. It is fair to say that the Chinnaswamy pitch was more South African than Indian, but the spinners couldn't plug the flow of runs either. Each of the three spinners went at four or more runs an over in the first innings in the first four-dayer.
The spinners' struggles seeped into the one-day series, too, and it was compounded further by a back injury to left-arm wristspinner Tabraiz Shamsi, who played only two out of four matches in the quadrangular series.
Frylinck, Paterson lend more variety
You might wonder what a 33-year-old - who doesn't look like an athlete - has to do with an A team. Go and watch his knuckle ball that dipped sharply on Shreyas Iyer and rattled his stumps. Go and watch his yorkers at the death. Having made his T20I debut against Bangladesh last year following a stint with Trinbago Knight Riders in CPL 2017, Robbie Frylinck is seen as that two-in-one player, who could bowl the tough overs and smash the ball in the lower order.
Dane Paterson is four years younger than Frylink and brings similar skills. The 29-year-old has finished T20 matches at home and banks on an assortment of variations in the end overs. It is for these skills that Bloem City Blazers forked out USD 135,000 (approximately R1.8 million) for him in the Global T20 League that was eventually scrapped. With national selector Hussein Manack and performance analyst Prasanna Agoram in attendance in Bengaluru, the seamer bagged his maiden five-wicket haul in List A cricket and showed he could be effective in one-dayers as well.
Behardien, the finisher: yay or nay?
Farhaan Behardien was the fourth-highest scorer in South Africa's one-day competition, with 437 runs in 11 innings. He thrived in the 20-over tournament as well, hitting 234 runs in seven innings, including six not outs, at a strike rate of 165.95. His role in India was to tackle tricky situations as a finisher. But when his captain Zondo needed his company to repair a faltering chase against Australia A, Behardien fell in bizarre fashion: going for a non-existent leg bye after surviving an lbw appeal. In the last two games against India A, he flickered briefly and finished with 18 not out and 38 not out. Behardien's tally of 103 runs in four innings is anything but great, but his experience could be handy as South Africa build towards Vision 2019.
Deivarayan Muthu is a sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo