India is just one win away from regaining its second place while South African will challenge Australia for the throne in the ICC Test rankings.
If India wins the second Test against England in Mohali it will climb up to second spot, leaving South Africa needing a series win just to stay second in the chart.
But South Africa will go top of the Reliance Mobile ICC Test Championship table if it beats Australia 3-0 in the three-match series that gets underway in Perth on Wednesday.
Though top-ranked Australia is 13 points clear of the Proteas despite its recent 2-0 series defeat in India, indicating just how dominant it had been for a protracted period of time before then, now there is a real race on for the summit as South Africa and India have Ricky Ponting's men in their sights.
If Mahendra Singh Dhoni's team puts in a similar performance as that of Chennai Test in the second and final match at Mohali, it will gain three points and move into second position, just 11 points behind Australia.
Graeme Smith's team gets its tour underway in earnest with two fast bowlers Makhaya Ntini and Dale Steyn in the top five of the Reliance Mobile ICC Test Player Rankings on a WACA surface that traditionally favours the pace men.
Then it will be all eyes on Australia as the worlds number-one team attempts to stay at the top. A 3-0 defeat will drop it below South Africa by a fraction of a point in which case just four ratings points would separate the top three teams in the world.
A 2-0 win for South Africa would leave it in second place just two points short of Australia while a 1-0 or 2-1 victory would leave the gap at five points and a drawn series would see Australia lose two points and South Africa gain one.
It should not be forgotten that South Africa has never won a Test series in Australia and Pontings men will be looking on this as a great opportunity to restore its self-confidence and public faith after that difficult tour of India.
A 3-0 series win for the home side will give it four points and stretch the gap with SA to 21 while Australia can also strengthen its position at the top by winning 2-0, 1-0 or 2-1.
South Africa must be careful it doesn't end the series behind India. If India wins the second Test against England in Mohali it will go second leaving SA needing a series win of some kind just to stay second in the Test Championship table.
Meanwhile, after a rain-affected draw in Dunedin, it's still all to play for between New Zealand and the West Indies with the winner of the second and final Test in Napier taking seventh place in the Reliance Mobile ICC Test Championship table.