South Africa captain Aiden Markram said he was “gutted” after his team lost their first-ever ICC Men’s T20 World Cup final by seven runs to India.

Having ended a run of seven semi-final losses – in both short-form formats – with their victory over Afghanistan on Wednesday, the Proteas came agonisingly close to their first World Cup title.

Heinrich Klaasen’s blistering 52 from 27 balls, with five sixes and two fours, put South Africa in position to win before India’s death bowlers turned the screw.

“Obviously gutted,” said Markram.

“It will take some time for us to reflect on this. We’ve had a great campaign but for the time being, this hurts. I am so proud of all my players and everyone involved in this team.

“We bowled very well, the pitch didn’t give them much to work with. We thought it was a chaseable total. It was a great game of cricket, I’m chuffed with all my guys, it’s hard not to get over the line but I’ll always be proud of them. We’ve seen that it’s not over until the last ball for a lot of our games. It changed quickly at the end there. But we were in a great position. We know we could’ve won the game.”

Markram said he was proud that the hunger for success that his team had shown throughout their unbeaten run to the final had been evident until the very end.

“One thing you can guarantee from South African people is that they are competitive, but they are respectful,” he said. “We pride ourselves on that. Hopefully moving forward we can learn from this and use it.

“This will always be a proud day for us, regardless.”

South Africa’s only major honour in the game is the Champions Trophy title won in 1998 and Markram said it was too soon to reflect deeply on the positives of the campaign.

“To get to our first final, it’s something we can be proud of,” said Markram. “Still, in our eyes, it’s not good enough. You’re not satisfied with making a final.

“I think it’ll take a bit of time for us to reflect back on all the good things that we’ve done, but obviously for the time being, it just hurts a lot.”

Markram had spoken before the final of the unique bond within the team were there was an “extreme hunger” for victory and he said the defeat would take some recovering from.

“Its just gut wrenching – that’s really what it is,” he said. “Each player has been on a different individual journey to get to this first final.

“Ultimately you become really tight as a group and you want good things to happen to this group because you know they’re great people and when you get really close like that.

“The nature of how the game went, obviously adds to the emotions and it’s one of those things but we can channel it moving forward but I think next couple of days you let it be, you let yourself feel the way you want to feel and then really start reflecting in a positive manner.

“Hopefully it’s one step closer. It’s tournament cricket, it’s tough cricket, it’s not easy to win trophies and you’ve got to take your hats off to a team like India for lifting the trophy.

“Hopefully moving forward we can get that first win and it can be a snowball effect of quite a few to come.” he added.