Dubai: India and South Africa will have one eye on next year's ICC World Twenty20 when they go head to head in a three-match Twenty20 International (T20I) series in Dharamsala on Friday.
The ICC World Twenty20 2016 will be staged from March 11 to April 3, and Sri Lanka will defend the title it won in Dhaka last year when it defeated 2007 champions India in the final.
Besides preparing for the 16-team ICC World Twenty20, both India and South Africa will also 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, it will have to win all the three matches.
In this scenario, India will join number-one ranked Sri Lanka on 126 points but will be placed below the 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 the fifth spot, while India will slip to eighth position.
A 2-1 series win for India will lift it ahead of Australia and just one point behind second-ranked Pakistan, while the same result for South Africa will help it rise to fifth with India dropping to sixth.
In the ICC T20I Player Rankings, which were updated
following the conclusion of Zimbabwe and Pakistan series, India's Virat Kohli will defend his number-one batting position. The Indias Test captain had moved ahead of Australia's Aaron Finch, who had 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 Indian batsman 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. Du Plessis is currently in fourth position and trails England's Alex Hales by 47 points.
Other top-ranked batsmen to feature in the forthcoming series include Suresh Raina (11th), JP Duminy (16th), Quinton de Kock (22nd), Hashim Amla (24th), David Miller (31st), India limited overs captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni (33rd) and AB de Villiers (39th).
Indian off-spinner Ravichandran Ashwin will be 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 in 12th position 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 (35th), Kyle Abbott (44th), Harbhajan Singh (49th) and Duminy (60th).
Duminy (7th) and Kohli (14th) are their sides' highest-ranked all-rounders with the list headed by Bangladesh's Shakib Al Hasan.