South Africa are one of three ICC full member nations, the others being Australia and Pakistan, against whom India have a negative head-to-head record in one day internationals.
India's ODI record of 35 wins and 46 defeats in 84 ODIs against the Proteas at a success rate of 43.2% is only marginally better than the two-time world champion's success rates against Pakistan (55 wins, 73 defeats; 43%) and Australia (52 wins, 78 defeats; 40%) respectively.
Not counting multi-team tournaments, South Africa's 2019-20 ODI tour of India would be their sixth to the country where they played their first series in 1991-92 after re-admission to international cricket. On that note, let us have a look at what transpired on the Proteas' last ODI series against India on Indian soil.
#1 First ODI, Kanpur | South Africa: 303/5; India: 298/7
Winning the toss and opting to bat first, captain AB de Villiers led from the front with a scintillating unbeaten 104 as South Africa became the first team to post a 300-run total in Kanpur, putting up a score of 303-5 courtesy a half century from Faf du Plessis and contributions from the rest of the batting order.
Despite the early loss of Shikhar Dhawan, the hosts made a strong reply, reaching 193-1 in the 34th over when Ajinkya Rahane fell for 60. Needing 90 off the last ten, India were in the chase till Rohit Sharma fell for a well-made 150 which precipitated a mini-collapse despite the equation petering down to 35 off 23 balls, and the hosts fell short by 5 runs.
#2 Second ODI, Indore | India: 249/7; South Africa: 225 all out
Winning the toss and opting to make first use of the surface with the bat, India made three changes to the side which lost the first ODI in Kanpur. Yet they struggled to get going. Despite Ajinkya Rahane scoring back-to-back fifties, the hosts found themselves in more than a spot of bother at 124-6 with over 20 overs still remaining in their innings. An unbeaten 92 from the under-fire MS Dhoni who failed in the run chase in Kanpur, lent a semblance of respectability to the total as the visitors were set a target of 248 for victory.
South Africa looked in control of the chase when they reached 139-3 at the halfway mark, Faf du Plessis on an unbeaten 50 and the centurion in the first ODI, AB de Villiers just arriving at the crease. However, to their credit, the Indian bowlers turned the contest in their favour, sending back du Plessis and David Miller in quick succession as the visitors slumped to 200-8 in the 40th over with all of their recognised batters back in the hut. It proved a chase too tall for the lower order as South Africa were bowled out for 225 with over 6 overs remaining.
#3 Third ODI, Rajkot | South Africa: 270/7; India 252/6
With a win apiece, the two teams arrived in Rajkot for the third ODI, with each team looking to take the lead in the five-match series. For the third straight match in the series, the captain winning the toss chose to bat first as South Africa asked India to chase for the second time in the series.
Riding on a century from opener Quinton de Kock and a half-century from Faf du Plessis, South Africa looked good for a score far in excess of their eventual total of 270-7 when they reached 210-4 at the end of 40 overs. Credit to the Indian bowlers for pegging back the visitors with timely strikes in the death overs which kept the visitors' total within manageable proportions.
Despite the early loss of opener Dhawan, India looked to have the chase under control when 86 runs were required off the last 10 overs with 8 wickets in hand. But Morne Morkel's two late wickets to go with his two at the start of the innings derailed the hosts as South Africa eked out a narrow 18-run win to take the lead in the series.
#4 Fourth ODI, Chennai | India: 299/8; South Africa: 264/9
MS Dhoni won the toss in the fourth ODI in Chennai and elected to bat first. Courtesy Virat Kohli registering his 23rd ODI ton (138), ably supported by Suresh Raina's half-century and a 45 from Rahane, India posted a total of 299-8.
In reply, South Africa were never really in the chase, losing wickets at regular intervals. With none else turning in a substantial contribution other than de Villier's hundred and de Kock's 43, the visitors were bowled out for 264 to lose by 35 runs as India restored parity for the second time in the series, with everything to play for in the series decider in Mumbai.
#5 Fifth ODI, Mumbai | South Africa: 438/3; India: 224 all out
India looked on course for a very long day in the field in Mumbai when de Kock reached his 5th hundred against the hosts in 9 matches, in only the 23rd over of the visitors' innings. Riding on further centuries from captain AB de Villiers, who scored his third three-figure innings of the series, and another from Faf du Plessis, South Africa raked up a mammoth score of 438-3.
In the process, the visitors recorded only the second instance of 3 players scoring centuries in the same ODI innings, after recording the first such instance earlier in the same year against West Indies against the West Indies in Johannesburg.
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Requiring to pull off the tallest chase in ODI history, the hosts sunk without a trace, crashing to 224 all out to crash to their second-heaviest defeat in terms of runs in an one-day international as South Africa won their first ODI series in India in 5 attempts. For his batting exploits during the series, AB de Villiers was adjudged the Man of the Series.