South Africa won the T20 series comfortably, and it doesn't get any easier for India in the ODI series, with Dale Steyn and Morne Morkel all set to return.
Steyn and Morkel were rested for the T20I series, with South Africa eventually running away 2-0 winners. With their two best bowlers now back in the lineup, the Proteas will pose an even stiffer problem to India, who are still finding their mojo, especially with the bat.
South Africa clearly came into this tour knowing the importance of starting the series on a high note. Having done that, the key now will be to maintain momentum.
"We are happy the way we have started but we also know that there is a lot of hard work ahead of us," the star of the T20 series, JP Duminy, said. "It is going to be a hard-fought ODI series leading into the Test series.
"We are under no illusion that it is going to be a walkover in the ODI series. We know that we have to fight hard and play well and take it one game at a time. Our focus is on Kanpur [for the first one-dayer] and hopefully we can start off well in that series as well."
This first match at Green Park really is crucial for India. While any chance of regaining some momentum was gone with the final dead rubber of a T20 being washed out on Thursday, Dhoni's men cannot afford to play catchup again in another series.
The Proteas are too strong, and too good, a team to let an advantage slip easily, and the onus is really on the home team to come out all guns blazing in the first one-day international.
"South Africa are one of the strongest teams across all formats," India team director Ravi Shastri said. "By the time they leave we will be a much stronger team in two and a half months. We will be a much better team irrespective of the result."
The result does matter, though. This is a home series, a series, irrespective of the opponents – and, admittedly, they don't make them much better than South Africa – that India are expected to win, with a bit of domination thrown in for good measure.
That domination should, and will, hopefully, from the home team's perspective, start on Sunday, when the two teams walk out in Kanpur for the only day game of this ODI series.
Squads for ODI series: India (first three matches): MS Dhoni (C), Virat Kohli (VC), Shikhar Dhawan, Rohit Sharma, Suresh Raina, Ajinkya Rahane, Ambati Rayudu, Stuart Binny, Gurkeerat Singh Mann, Axar Patel, R Ashwin, Harbhajan Singh, Amit Mishra, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Mohit Sharma, Umesh Yadav.
South Africa: AB De Villiers (C), Hashim Amla, Quinton de Kock, Faf Du Plessis, JP Duminy, David Miller, Farhaan Behardien, Chris Morris, Khaya Zondo, Aaron Phangiso, Imran Tahir, Dale Steyn, Morne Morkel, Kyle Abbott, Kagiso Rabada.