Dubai:India's stay at the top of ICC Test rankings might end as early as next month if South Africa beat England 2-0 or better in their four-match home series starting from Wednesday at Centurion.
The Proteas, who lost their coveted position to India on December 6 after Mahendra Singh Dhoni and his men beat Sri Lanka 2-0 in the three-match Test series, will need to beat England by 2-0 or better to reclaim the top spot.
A 2-0 or 3-1 series win will put South Africa on par with India but ahead of Dhoni's side when the ratings are calculated beyond the decimal point while a 4-0 win will take Graeme Smith's side to 127 ratings points.
At present, India top the table with 124 rating points, followed by South Africa (122).
England have a chance to leapfrog South Africa into fourth position but for that to happen, Andrew Strauss' side will need to win all its matches in the series.
A 4-0 series win will put England alongside South Africa on 113 ratings points but ahead of the Proteas when the ratings are calculated beyond the decimal point.
While a convincing 2-0 or 3-1 series win will strengthen England's hold on fifth position, it will affect South Africa's ranking and the hosts would drop to 116 ratings points and possibly in third position, depending on how the Perth Test between Australia and the West Indies pans out.
In the ICC Player Rankings for Test batsmen, Indian opener Gautam Gambhir tops the chart while Virender Sehwag (5th) is the only other Indian in top 10.
In the bowlers' chart, Harbhajan Singh (6th) and Zaheer Khan (10th) clung on to their top 10 positions.