The loss to India in the third Test at the Wanderers has cost the Proteas the chance of a $1-million bonanza.
That is the prize for the No 1 ranked Test team at the cut-off date of 3 April.
By winning the third Test under trying conditions, the Indians retained their No 1 status. They arrived for the series on 124 points, and although they slipped back to 121 after losses in the first two Tests, South Africa were able to advance only to 115 points. They would have been equal to India if they had won the series 3-0, separated by just a decimal point.
Now they cannot overtake India, even if they win the four-Test series against Australia, starting on 1 March, 4-0.
Had South Africa pulled off the series whitewash against India, then a win by 2-0 or better against Australia would have helped them reclaim the mace they had last won in 2015.
Now South Africa will have to win at least one Test against Australia to retain second place in the Test table, which, in turn, will earn them $500,000. In this scenario, Australia will pocket $200,000 for a third-place finish. However, if Australia win by 3-0 or 4-0, then they will leapfrog South Africa into second place.
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