Hashim Amla and MS Dhoni during Champions Trophy    Getty Images
Hashim Amla and MS Dhoni during Champions Trophy Getty Images

After his sabbatical, AB de Villiers returned to the limited-overs cricket in style with a sensational 104-ball 176 to set up yet another victory for South Africa against the struggling Bangladesh. De Villiers secured his career-best ODI figures in his first international innings in four months. The Proteas clinched the three-match ODI series 2-0, winning the second ODI by 104 runs, courtesy 7 wickets shared between Imran Tahir and Andile Phehlukwayo.

With a clinical performance once again, South Africa were back on top as No. 1 ODI team. India, who had gained the top spot through their 4-1 victory against Australia a couple of weeks ago, have once again lost the spot to South Africa.

But for how long can the Proteas enjoy their stay at the top? How can India topple their old allies once again? Let s have a look at possible scenarios:

India, South Africa and their rise to glory

After the ICC Champions Trophy, India remained at No. 3 while South Africa continued being the No. 1 ODI team. Not to forget they had already thrashed Sri Lanka and Australia.

India then began their limited-overs journey. They beat West Indies 3-1, followed by whitewashing Sri Lanka 5-0.

At home, India flattened Australia 4-1, thereby dethroning South Africa from the top.

As for South Africa, the tale was different. After thrashing Australia 5-0 in their den last year, the Proteas had surged to the top spot. However, Australia reclaimed their glory thrashing New Zealand in the Chappell-Hadlee Trophy by 3-0. Australia continued their good run against Pakistan as well by 4-1.

South Africa had to do something different to keep Australia out of sight in the rankings.

It was through the Sri Lanka series that South Africa rose to the occasion. They whitewashed the Lankans 5-0, and regained the No. 1 spot.

South Africa had last sat on top of the rankings in November 2014 before India moved to the top position after defeating Sri Lanka 5-0. Later that month, Australia claimed the coveted top spot after defeating South Africa 4-1.

However, South Africa s stay in the top was at risk since the 2017 Champions Trophy. Being eliminated in the group stages of the tournament was nothing in comparison to losing the 3-match ODI series against England by 2-1.

At present, South Africa have found their lost mojo and have toppled India by a point (121).

Nevertheless, an interesting battle for the top of the ODI rankings could be in the offing even now. India still have the chance to reclaim their throne.

If India win the opening match against New Zealand on October 22 at Mumbai, they will be back on top with the help of decimal points. However, if they don t South Africa get to enjoy their stay at top a bit longer.

India will have to go on to win the series against New Zealand 3-0 to retain the numero uno position as anything less will see South Africa regain the No. 1 one position should they win the series against Bangladesh 3-0.

The story will also witness a new twist if New Zealand, who are placed at No. 5, thrash India by 3-0.

South Africa will remain on top, India remain at No. 2 and New Zealand will jump to No. 3 toppling England as well as Australia with 115 points.

The other side of the story

Meanwhile, Pakistan will look to consolidate their sixth position with a whitewash against Sri Lanka. They presently have 95 points, nine more than their opposition, and can go up to 99 points with a 5-0 win.

On the other hand, Sri Lanka have a tough task ahead. The team that entered last as a direct qualification for 2019 World Cup will have to defeat Pakistan 5-0 to move ahead of them.