The fortunes of India and South Africa have swung on somewhat similar lines in the recent past. They have had a disastrous 2004 when they came hurtling down the ranking ladder (ODIs) at breakneck speed. While South Africa sank to as low as eighth in the rankings, the Indians, too, were struggling in the same vicinity.
South Africa, however, witnessed a huge resurrection thereafter. They have subsequently climbed up the ladder as quickly as they went down.
India's woes, on the other hand, continued a bit longer. They were still groping in the dark until Sri Lanka came over. The seven-match ODI series saw an incredible turnaround in the Indian fortunes -- the desperate and confused bunch that they were just sometime back put up an amazing show to leave the Lankan tigers badly bruised and battered and propelled themselves into resurgent mode.
Incidentally, the Lankans were also ranked Number Two in ODIs before what has been a highly forgettable series for them. Team India had a mixed tour of Pakistan in January-February in which they lost the Test series 1-0, but came back strongly to romp home 4-1 in the one-day series. But then the fortune turned against India. Though they won the Test series against Zimbabwe 2-0, they lost the Videocon Triseries to New Zealand. In West Indies, while India won the four-match Test series 1-0, they badly lost the ODI series 1-4. Subsequently, they lost the Malaysian tri-series to Australia. The worst came when they failed to reach even the semi-final of the ICC Champions Trophy at home.
So, confidence is one thing that is extremely short when India began their South African tour.
Though South Africa have the over all advantage in ODIs, winning 30 and losing just 18 in 50 matches that they have played, but India proved themselves superior when it came to playing at home. Of the 19 matches Proteas played in India, they have lost eleven times and won in eight. However, when it comes to playing at home, South Africans had completely dominated the Indians. OF the 16 matches palyed in South Africa, they have won 12, lost only three and one yielded no result.
In the last five-and-a-half years the two countries have, however, played each other just fourteen times. South Africa have won seven matches and lost six (with one washout), but three of the victories have been at home.
And now as a team South Africa is sitting pretty at Number 2 position in ICC ODI ranking with 122 points, much ahead of India sitting at Number 5 with 110 points. However, on the Test side, Indian records seems much better vis-a-vis South Africa. While India is at Number 4 with 111 points, South Africa is at Number 6 with 94 points.
While South Africa would be looking to extend their dream run, the visitor would strive to get the confidence back before two home series and the World Cup in West Indies.