Mickey Arthur, the South Africa coach, has said that it is important to be No. 1 in the one-day rankings after blanking Bangladesh but added that what his team really wants is to beat India in the three-Test series starting in Chennai on March 26.
"We have achieved one of the goals we had set out for the team. And being No. 1 is absolutely great. But it will be better still if we are No. 1 next year too because that would mean we would have beaten Australia in two series," Arthur told Cricinfo.
"We will go all out to win the series in India," Arthur said. "The Bangladesh win has set us up nicely for the India series. Frankly, we always saw this (Bangladesh) tour as pre-India tour preparation where we got our game and gameplans right for the big one. It's going to be a fantastic Test series simply because India is a huge team to beat in their own country, and we are not prepared to be just another ordinary rival."
Arthur also spoke of setting high standards for the team, which he admitted will be tested in India. "Not many teams go to India and win, so that's one of our main goals for the year."
Arthur also said that he has appealed to fast bowler Andre Nel, who was replaced for the India tour by Charl Langeveldt under Cricket South Africa's transformation policy, to play on for the country. "We have spent a lot of time with him because we believe strongly that he is a vital cog as we go forward, especially against England and Australia who are on our calendar this year. So I hope he decides to stay on with South Africa. But ultimately, it's his decision because only he knows what's best for himself."
Nel is believed to be in talks with the unofficial Indian Cricket League (ICL) after being dropped in tune with a CSA selection policy that mandates at least six players of colour in a 14-man squad.
South Africa swept the two-Test series against Bangladesh and wrapped up the one-day series 3-0 with a seven-wicket win in Mirpur on Friday. The team will leave Bangladesh on Saturday and is scheduled to fly out from Johannesburg for Chennai on March 21.
Ajay Shankar is deputy editor of Cricinfo in Bangalore