Dubai: If the South Africa-Pakistan series is drawn level at 0-0, it would be enough for the Proteas to guarantee themselves the No.1 spot at the April 1 cut-off date for retaining the ICC Test Championship mace and prize money for the top-ranked team.
South Africa is currently placed at the top of the table with 124 ratings points, six ratings ahead of England.
South Africa would thus have an opportunity to not only become richer by USD 450,000 but also to retain the Reliance ICC Test Championship mace, irrespective of how the other series before the cut-off date pan out.
There are three more series lined up before the April 1 cut-off date. India hosts Australia for a four-match series from February 22, New Zealand plays the first of a three-match series against England on March 6 in Dunedin, and West Indies plays Zimbabwe in the first of a two-match series on March 16.
Only a 3-0 series win for Pakistan could see South Africa slip to third position with 117 ratings points, pushing England to the top with Australia in second place.
India are placed fifth in the table with 105 rating points behind arch-rivals Pakistan (109 points).
A total of USD 3.8 million in prize money will be shared among the top four sides on April 1, 2013, 2014 and 2015, after the ICC Board approved a proposal earlier this year to substantially increase incentives in the form of prize money to promote Test cricket in the period leading up to the ICC Test Championship event in 2017.
Previously, the top team in the ICC Test rankings received a cheque for USD 175,000, but, from 2013, it will receive a minimum of USD 450,000, rising to USD 500,000 in 2015.
Meanwhile, South Africa batsman Hashim Amla has an opportunity to claim the No.1 ranking on the ICC Player Rankings for Test batsmen for the first time in his career when he takes to the field against Pakistan in the first Test of the three-match series in Johannesburg from February 1.
The bowlers` table is headed by South Africa spearhead Dale Steyn, who is currently just five ratings points away from breaking the 900 ratings points barrier for the second time in his career.