Sydney: An emotional David Warner fought back tears on his way to his 12th test century on Tuesday as he remembered his late team mate Phillip Hughes.
The dashing opener smashed 101 off just 114 balls to lay the foundation for Australia`s opening day total of 348 for two in the fourth and final test against India at the Sydney Cricket Ground, the same venue where Hughes was fatally injured by a bouncer in a first-class match in November.
Cricket Australia unveiled a memorial plaque outside the home side`s dressing room on Monday as the Hughes family watched both teams pay tribute to the left-hander before the game began.
"I had a tear in my eye this morning when I walked out to warm up and I saw Greg (Hughes` father) and (sister) Megs up in the stands," Warner later told reporters.
"It`s fantastic for them to be here. The hurt and the pain they`ve gone through and how much it would have hurt them to come back today -- it`s just courageous for them to be here.
"And I applaud them for making the effort to come down, it`s fantastic. I had a minute to myself when I came back off.
"I had my head in a towel and I had to dig deep and go out there and bat the way I know I can and try and clear my mind. It was tough, but I got out there and got back on the horse which we should be doing."
Warner, who scored centuries in both innings in the first test in Adelaide, also paused to kiss the pitch and signal to the sky when he reached 63, the score Hughes was on when he was hit by the rising delivery.
Australia`s opening stand of 200 between Warner and Chris Rogers, who has indicated that the SCG test might be his last at home, gave Australia the ideal launchpad for a huge first-innings total.
Warner praised the 37-year-old Rogers, who compiled his fifth successive half-century in the series but fell agonisingly close of a hundred on 95.
"The thing I`m most proud of is actually putting up a double century partnership with Bucky (Rogers), our first one," Warner said. "We bat very well together and I think that`s the highlight today for me.
"I looked at his numbers the other day -- 70 first-class hundreds and over 20,000 first-class runs. It`s a fantastic career. He`s batting the best he has in the last 18 months that I`ve seen."