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Million-dollar prize on the line in India

There's more than just the Border-Gavaskar Trophy up for grabs when Australia meet India in a four-Test series next week

As if the Australian cricket team needed any more inspiration to overturn the weight of history and claim a series win in India, here's some.

US$1 million.

The International Cricket Council hands out a US$1 million prize, along with the Test championship mace, to the top-ranked Test nation annually on April 1.

Australia currently trail India by 12 ratings points in the official ICC Test team rankings. Encouragingly for the Aussies, that it is not an unsurmountable lead.

But it won't be easy.

Should Steve Smith's men defy the odds, it would need to be by a considerable margin. A 3-0 series win – or better – would be required to overtake India and claim top spot on the Test tree.

A 3-0 result for Australia would see them level India on with a rating of 114, but Darren Lehmann's team would be ahead by a fraction of a point.

At the current exchange rate, that's roughly A$1.3 million for the 16-man Australian squad, or $81,250 per player (not including support staff).

Conversely, India need just one win from the four-Test series, which begins in Pune on February 23, to secure themselves top spot and the million-dollar pay-day.

Such a result would be sweet revenge for India. Last year they were the No.1 Test nation after England dethroned South Africa from top spot. Until Australia beat New Zealand in the Black Caps' backyard to leapfrog Virat Kohli's side at the last minute.

Australia then surrendered the Test No.1 ranking in Sri Lanka and, after an injection of fresh talent ahead of this summer's Adelaide day-night Test, have returned to an upward trajectory they hope will end with the No.1 ranking.

Should a 3-0 result prove beyond the Australians, the ICC also hands out cash prizes for teams ranked second through to fourth.

And this is where defeat in India could get costly. Especially with New Zealand and South Africa's Test series overlapping the Border-Gavaskar Trophy series.

The ICC pays US$500,000 to the second-ranked team, US$200,000 to the third and US$100,000 to the fourth-placed side.

Depending on results in the three-Test NZ-SA series, Australia could slip as low as third. Should South Africa win their series 3-0, Australia would need to win the Border-Gavaskar Trophy. A drawn series in India, even a 2-2 result, would still see the Proteas claim second spot.

Current ICC Test rankings

Test Squads

India (for first two Tests): Virat Kohli (c), Murali Vijay, KL Rahul, Cheteshwar Pujara, Ajinkya Rahane, Wriddhiman Saha (wk), Ravichandaran Ashwin, Ravindra Jadeja, Ishant Sharma, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Umesh Yadav, Karun Nair, Jayant Yadav, Kuldeep Yadav, Abhinav Mukund, Hardik Pandya.

Australia: Steve Smith (c), David Warner (vc), Ashton Agar, Jackson Bird, Peter Handscomb, Josh Hazlewood, Usman Khawaja, Nathan Lyon, Mitchell Marsh, Shaun Marsh, Glenn Maxwell, Stephen O'Keefe, Matthew Renshaw, Mitchell Starc, Mitchell Swepson, Matthew Wade

Australia's schedule in India

Feb 17-19, Tour match v India A, Mumbai

Feb 23-27, First Test, Pune


Mar 4-8, Second Test, Bengaluru


Mar 16-20, Third Test, Ranchi

Mar 25-29, Fourth Test, Dharamsala