Despite Pakistan having already won the series against England, there is still a lot to play for in the third and final Test which starts in Dubai on Friday 3 February.
For England, the equation is very simple and straightforward – it has to win the Test to be guaranteed a number-one spot at the 1 April cut-off date.
A US$175,000 prize is presented annually to the side which tops the ICC Test Championship table at the cut-off date.
If England wins the Test, it will finish on 120 ratings points and will top the table irrespective of how South Africa’s three-Test series in New Zealand, to be played from 7-27 March, pans out.
However, England’s failure to win the Dubai Test will give South Africa a chance to not only reclaim the number-one spot but will also win the US$175,000 prize.
If England loses the Dubai Test and with it the series 3-0, it will finish on 118 ratings points and can be overtaken by South Africa by a ratings point, provided South Africa sweeps the series in New Zealand.
If England salvages a draw, then it will end on 119 ratings points but will be beaten by South Africa by 0.01 of a ratings point, again if the Proteas win all the three Tests against New Zealand.
The incentive for Pakistan is to win the Test and the series 3-0 is also high. It has the opportunity to narrow the gap with India and Australia to just three ratings points. The two sides are currently sitting on 111 ratings points each, but India is ranked third by a fraction of a point following the home side’s 4-0 series win.
A 2-1 series win will mean it will finish on 105 ratings points, while a 2-0 series win will earn it eight ratings points and it will finish on 107 ratings points.