* England destroy India by innings and 242 runs
* Home team take unassailable 3-0 lead in series (Adds Lorgat quotes)
By Richard Sydenham
BIRMINGHAM, England, Aug 13 (Reuters) - England surged to the top of the world rankings after crushing India by an innings and 242 runs in the third test on Saturday to secure their sixth consecutive series win.
Fast bowler James Anderson claimed four for 85 as India were dismissed for 244 after lunch on the fourth day at Edgbaston, giving the home team a 3-0 lead in the four-match series.
India's batsmen capitulated for the third successive match against England's penetrative attack.
Captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni was India's top scorer for the second time in the test, with 74 not out, but the game was over when Shanthakumaran Sreesanth edged Tim Bresnan to Kevin Pietersen in the gully.
"There's not many bowling units better than ours in the world," said home captain Andrew Strauss at the presentation ceremony after his side clinched their fifth biggest victory by an innings.
"It's been a goal of ours to reach the top of the rankings for a long time. It's a great testament to everyone involved in the England set up and fills me with a lot of pride."
England's series victory takes them top of the test rankings ahead of South Africa and previous leaders India.
With the sun shining and the pitch encouraging spin, India were presented with good batting conditions to stage a fightback but were unable to cope with Anderson.
They resumed on 35 for one and the fast bowler had opener Gautam Gambhir (14) caught by Graeme Swann at second slip off the batsman's first ball of the day.
The score then became 40 for three when the usually reliable Rahul Dravid (18) edged behind off the same bowler.
Anderson reserved his best delivery for VVS Laxman (2) as he shaped the ball from middle stump to off and found an edge to the wicketkeeper.
That was 56 for four and it became 87 for five when Suresh Raina (10) was lbw to Swann.
Master batsman Sachin Tendulkar (40) looked at his best for the 95 minutes he occupied the crease, hitting eight boundaries including an elegant straight drive off Bresnan.
But he was dismissed in the cruellest of fashions when a Dhoni drive was deflected on to the non-striker's stumps by Swann's fingertips. Tendulkar was just out of his ground and the third umpire sealed his fate.
Among the rattle of wickets perhaps the most bizarre sight was wicketkeeper Matt Prior opting to don a helmet and stand up to Anderson as a tactic to prevent Tendulkar from standing outside his crease. It lasted one ball.
After lunch Amit Mishra's brief resistance ended when he drove Swann to mid-on for 22.
Praveen Kumar went down fighting with 40 from 18 balls with three sixes.
He added 75 for the eighth wicket with Dhoni from just 44 deliveries before mis-timing a pull against Stuart Broad to be caught at cover.
Broad then trapped Ishant Sharma lbw for a duck and Bresnan removed Sreesanth.
Haroon Lorgat, chief executive of the International Cricket Council (ICC), praised England.
"On behalf of the ICC I would like to congratulate Andrew Strauss, coach Andy Flower and the whole team for becoming the number-one ranked test team in the world," Lorgat said in a news release.
"Through careful planning and a series of clinical performances they have deservedly achieved their goal. They were clearly the most consistent side in the world over the past few years as evidenced by 19 out of 30 wins and only four losses."
The capacity crowd celebrated, some more wildly than others, as scores of fans in fancy dress performed a conga.
There were spectators in gorilla and penguin suits and one man was dressed in a banana outfit.
Alastair Cook's career-best 294 laid the foundations on Friday when England racked up a massive 710 for seven declared in reply to India's first innings 224.
"Congratulations to England," said Dhoni. "We've not been up to the mark in this series and the margin of defeats have been getting bigger and bigger.
"There are areas we need to improve in the side ... but overall to play really good cricket you have to be consistent and that's what England have done."
The final test at the Oval starts on Thursday.
(Editing by Tony Jimenez. To comment on this story: firstname.lastname@example.org)
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