The battle begins at Newlands on Friday, 5 January, followed by Tests in Centurion (13-17 January) and the Wanderers (23-28 January).
Faf du Plessis’s side is presently 13 points behind Virat Kohli’s team, which is sitting on top of the table on 124 points. If they end on 118 apiece, India will be ranked above South Africa when the points are calculated beyond the decimal point. In such a situation, India will be on 118.47 points, while South Africa will be on 117.53.
On the other side of the coin, if India win all the three Tests of the series, then they will move to 128 points while South Africa will slip to 107 points.
These are the series permutations:
South Africa 3 India 0 – South Africa will join India on 118 points but India will be ranked first by a fraction of a point
South Africa 2 India 1 or South Africa 1 India 0 – South Africa 115 India 121
South Africa 2 India 0 – South Africa 116 India 120
India 3 South Africa 0 – India 128 South Africa 107
India 2 South Africa 1 or India 1 South Africa 0 – India 125 South Africa 11
India 2 South Africa 0 – India 126 South Africa 109
Drawn series – India 123 South Africa 112
Meanwhile, Australia have been guaranteed third place in the rankings after leading the Ashes series 3-0 with the fifth and final Test to begin in Sydney on Thursday, 4 January. However, England will have to win the Test to avoid finishing in fifth place.
If Australia win the series 4-0, then they will finish third on 104 points and England will end on fifth with 99 points, while a 3-1 series win for Australia will mean they will finish third on 102 points and England in fourth on 101 points.
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