Fourth-ranked India leads sixth-ranked South Africa by seven points
Can Virat Kohli defend his No 1 batting ranking?
India and South Africa will have one eye on next year’s ICC World Twenty20, in India from March 11 to April 3, when they go head-to-head in the first of the three-match Twenty20 International series, in Dharamsala, on Friday.
Besides preparing for the 16-team World Twenty20 2016, India and South Africa will aim to improve their positions on the ICC T20I Team Rankings.
Fourth-ranked India currently leads sixth-ranked South Africa by seven points, which means there will be changes in the table irrespective of how the series pans out.
India will have an incentive to rise two places to second, but, to make it happen, they need to win all the three matches.
In this scenario, India will join number-one ranked defending World T20 champions Sri Lanka on 126 points, but will be placed below their Asian neighbours when the ratings are calculated beyond the decimal point.
If the series result is reversed, then South Africa will join the West Indies on 117 points but will be ranked behind the Caribbean side at fifth, while India will slip to eighth.
A 2-1 series win will lift India ahead of Australia and just one point behind second-ranked Pakistan, while the same result for South Africa will help them rise to fifth, with India dropping to sixth.
In the ICC T20I Player Rankings, which were updated following the conclusion of the Zimbabwe and Pakistan series, India’s Virat Kohli will look to defend his number-one batting position.
India’s top-order batsman had moved ahead of Australia’s Aaron Finch, who slipped to second after missing his side’s T20I against England in Cardiff.
Kohli leads Finch by seven points and to retain the top spot the former India Under-19 captain will have to perform strongly in the series.
Likewise, South Africa captain Faf du Plessis will also be targeting an improvement in his batting ranking. He is currently in fourth place and trails England’s Alex Hales by 47 points.
Other top-ranked batsmen to feature in the forthcoming series include Suresh Raina (No 11), JP Duminy (16), Quinton de Kock (22), Hashim Amla (24), David Miller (31), Mahendra Singh Dhoni (33) and AB de Villiers (39).
India off-spinner Ravichandran Ashwin is the highest-ranked bowler from either side. The 29-year-old from Chennai is ranked fourth and has Sri Lanka’s third-ranked Sachithra Senanayake firmly within his sights.
South Africa’s Imran Tahir is his side’s highest-ranked bowler at No 12 and will be looking to break into the top 10 for the first time in his career.
He trails Sri Lanka’s 10th-ranked Nuwan Kulasekara by 19 points.
Other bowlers aiming to make progress include Bhuvneshwar Kumar (35), Kyle Abbott (44), Harbhajan Singh (49) and Duminy (60).
Duminy (7) and Kohli (14) are their team's highest-ranked all-rounders. The list is headed by Bangladesh’s Shakib Al Hasan.