Dubai: India will look to defend their number-two position on the ICC team chart when the Mahendra Singh Dhoni-led side takes on third-ranked South Africa in the five-match ODI cricket series that begins in Kanpur on Sunday.
India lead South Africa by five points and need to win two matches in order to stop falling behind the Proteas. A 4-1 win for the AB de Villiers-led side will put it second on 113 points with India dropping to third on 112 points, according to an ICC release.
But a 3-2 win for the tourists will mean India will retain second spot on 114 points and South Africa getting the consolation of reducing the gap with the host from five points to two.
On the other side of the coin, a series sweep for India would see them advance to 119 points and narrow Australia's lead at the top to eight points. In this scenario, South Africa slip behind New Zealand in fourth position on 107 points.
Meanwhile, the top three batsmen in the player rankings will also feature in the series.
South Africa ODI captain AB de Villiers holds a 73-point advantage over his compatriot and second-ranked Hashim Amla who, in turn, is 21 points clear of India's Virat Kohli.
Apart from Kohli, Shikhar Dhawan (sixth) and Dhoni (eighth) are the other batsmen who represent the home side inside the top 10 and will be looking for upward movements during the series.
Outside the top 10, Rohit Sharma (15th), Faf du Plessis (17th) and Suresh Raina (18th), Quinton de Kock (23rd), David Miller (26th), Jean-Paul Duminy (34th), Ajinkya Rahane (38th) and Ambati Rayudu (49th) will be aiming to improve their rankings.
In the bowlers rankings, South African leg-spinner Imran Tahir will need to put up strong performances during the series if he has to retain his number-one position. The wrist spinner leads Australia's Mitchell Starc, with fifth-ranked Dale Steyn not too far behind.
Other bowlers looking to head in the right direction include Ravichandran Ashwin (ninth), Bhuvneshwar Kumar (10th), Morne Morkel (11th), Umesh Yadav (24th), Amit Mishra (45th) and Mohit Sharma (48th).
Bangladesh's Shakib Al Hasan holds a commanding lead at the top of the all-rounders list and the highest-ranked all-rounder on either side heading into the series is ninth-placed Duminy.
The following are the series permutations:
- India (115 pts) v South Africa (110 pts)
- If Ind wins 5-0, then Ind 119 pts, SA 107 pts
- If Ind wins 4-1, then Ind 117 pts, SA 108 pts
- If Ind wins 3-2, then Ind 116 pts, SA 110 pts
- If SA wins 5-0, then Ind 110 pts, SA 115 pts
- If SA wins 4-1, then Ind 112 pts, SA 113 pts
- If SA wins 3-2, then Ind 114 pts, SA 112 pts
- If the series is drawn 2-2, then Ind 115 pts, SA 111 pts