"I think we need to get performances from a lot of our key players," India captain Rahul Dravid said before the team's departure for the two-month tour, that includes five One-dayers and three Tests.
"For the last two or three series we have not been able to get consistent performances from most of our key players. That is something we need to correct," he said on Monday.
India's performance has been disappointing since losing 4-1 in the West Indies in May. They failed to qualify for a triangular series final in Malaysia in September against Australia and the West Indies.
The worst came when Dravid's Indians were eliminated in the league phase of the recent Champions Trophy at home. They have lost eight of their last 12 One-day internationals.
"We have to adjust to the bouncing ball in South Africa. The batsmen have to show patience. I think the courage and character of the team will be tested," said Dravid.
India have won just three of their 16 One-dayers in South Africa since 1992, but Dravid said his side had the talent to give a good account of themselves this time.
"We have not done well in South Africa in the past and we'd like to put in good performances this time. That will give us a lot of confidence going into the World Cup (in the West Indies next year)," he said.
Dravid said the return of veteran leg-spinner Anil Kumble would help the team on the difficult tour.
"Obviously, his experience and knowledge will help us. We always had him in our plans, but we need to manage him in terms of the amount of cricket he plays," said Dravid.
Kumble, 36, has not been considered for limited-overs cricket since August 2005, despite being the most successful Indian bowler in both forms of the game, with 533 Test and 329 One-day wickets.
But India suffered a setback when hard-hitting batsman Yuvraj Singh was ruled out of the tour due to a knee injury.
"Yuvraj had a great run for the last One-and-a-half years, but we cannot do anything about injuries. It will give another youngster an opportunity to put in some good performances," said the Indian captain.
Indian coach Greg Chappell said the boys had it in them to do well in South Africa where the wickets would help strokeplay.
"We have some players who have done well," he said. "The tracks there will give us more options for playing strokes, unlike the wickets in the sub-continent. What is most important is to put the basics together."
The five One-dayers will be played in Johannesburg (November 19), Durban (November 22), Cape Town (November 26), Port Elizabeth (November 29) and Centurion (December 3).
The three Tests will be played in Johannesburg (December 15-19), Durban (Dec 26-20) and Cape Town (January 2-6).
India's Test squad will be named in the first week of December.
India's One-day squad: Rahul Dravid (capt), Virender Sehwag, Sachin Tendulkar, Wasim Jaffer, Mohammad Kaif, Dinesh Karthik, Suresh Raina, Dinesh Mongia, Mahendra Singh Dhoni, Irfan Pathan, Ajit Agarkar, Munaf Patel, Shanthakumaran Sreesanth, Harbhajan Singh, Anil Kumble, Zaheer Khan.