India on top of the world after mauling Sri Lanka

MUMBAI: India became the number one Test team on Sunday after routing Sri Lanka by an innings and 24 runs in the third and final cricket Test in Mumbai to clinch the series 2-0.

Pace spearhead Zaheer Khan took 5-72 as Sri Lanka, trailing by 333 runs in the first innings, were shot out for 309 in their second knock 35 minutes into the fifth day's play at the Brabourne stadium.

The 2-0 scoreline lifted India to the top of the official Test rankings with 124 rating points, two more than previous leaders South Africa.

Sri Lanka, who had also lost the second Test by an innings and 144 runs, slipped from second place to fourth with 115 points, one behind Australia (116).

About 10,000 home fans cheered lustily as the Indian players and the support staff, led by the team's South African coach Gary Kirsten, hugged each other after the fall of the last wicket.

Senior pro Sachin Tendulkar, the world's leading batsman in Test and one-day cricket, was esctatic when he spoke to television commentators after the match.

"It is fantastic to be the number one Test team," said Tendulkar, 36, who completed 20 years in international cricket at the start of this series.

"I have been waiting a long time to get to this position. Not just me, but the entire country waited for it.

"The players have worked very hard over the last 18 months to get there and the coach has handled the team superbly."

Since November 2007, India have won home series against Pakistan, Australia, England and Sri Lanka, won an away series in New Zealand, and drawn at home against South Africa.

The Indians lost two away series in Australia and Sri Lanka in the same period.

"The real tough job starts now to maintain this performance," said Indian captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni.

"When we are pushed against the wall, we come out with special performances. It was a terrific team effort in the entire series. The batsmen got big scores, the bowlers bowled well in difficult conditions and our fielding was good."

"The important thing is to maintain this consistency in future."

India needed just 7.4 overs to wrap up Sri Lanka's second innings after they had resumed at Saturday's total of 274-6.

Sri Lanka's resistance ended with the day's third delivery when captain Kumar Sangakkara was caught behind off Zaheer for 137.

Sangakkara, who was on 133 overnight, smashed the second ball to the point fence but failed to take his bat away in time as the next delivery moved away after pitching.

Two overs later, Rangana Herath miscued a pull off Zaheer to mid-wicket where Pragyan Ojha dived in front to take a low catch and reduce Sri Lanka to 282-8.

Muttiah Muralitharan and Nuwan Kulasekara hit a flurry of boundaries to lift Sri Lanka past the 300-run mark, but Zaheer was not to be denied his fifth wicket.

The seamer lifted a ball outside Kulasekara's off-stump and the batsman edged a waist-high catch to Venkatsai Laxman at second slip after making 19.

"India outperformed us in all departments of the game in the last two Tests," Sangakkara admitted.

"We nearly put 400 on the board, which is a good score, but (Virender) Sehwag took the game away with his 293.

"The guys fought hard through the series but it was just not good enough."