Dubai: South Africa has been guaranteed the number-one position on the ICC Test Championship table at the April 1 cut-off date after victory in the Cape Town Test against Pakistan.
It means their place cannot be overtaken by closest rivals - England, Australia and India.
South Africa only needed to draw the series against Pakistan to retain the Test mace. But victory in the Cape Town Test by four wickets means even if they lose the third and final Test at Centurion, the Proteas will still gain one ratings point and will finish on 125 ratings points, which will be more than sufficient to give them the top spot at the cut-off date irrespective of how the India-Australia and England-New Zealand series pan out.
If England win all the three Tests against New Zealand, the maximum they can achieve is 119, while India can rise to as high as 112 (if they defeat Australia 4-0) and Australia can move to 121 (if they win all four Tests against India).
The Proteas will not only retain the prestigious Test Championship mace but will also earn $450,000 for this achievement. This is a significant increase in prize money, as, until last year, the side topping the Test or ODI Championship table received $175,000.
The battle for second, third and fourth positions is very much on, and is not only intense but close, as only 13 ratings points separate second-ranked England from fifth-ranked India.
The side that claims second position at the April cut-off date will earn $350,000 while the side finishing third will collect $250,000 and the side ending fourth will win $150,000.