Adelaide: Coming in the wake of Phillip Hughes' tragic death, an emotional David Warner on Tuesday said his innings of 145 runs on day one of the first cricket Test against India was the "best knock" of his career and would stay with him for the rest of his life.
Warner's 10th Test century helped Australia finish the first day at 354 for six. "It is probably the best knock of my career," said an emotional Warner after the day's play.
"Hopefully, I can score some more hundreds later on but this is definitely going to stick with me for the rest of my life. Throughout the innings I had this gut feeling that my little mate (Hughes) was with me at the other end, all the time from ball one.
"I know he will be laughing at other end about all the support and the messages he has received because he wouldn't have believed the amount of support he has had not just in Australia but from all over the world," he added.
Warner said he had initially thought of not celebrating his century. "I thought of not celebrating my hundred, but then Hughes would have wanted me to, knowing him. Michael (Clarke) was at the other end with me and he said he would have been proud of me. Even he (Clarke) raised his bat when he was batting on 37 not out and I hope Michael can come out tomorrow and get the rest of his 40-odd runs," he added.
Warner made a rousing start to the day, hitting a plethora of boundaries, and even though Australia lost two wickets in the morning session, he added 118 runs with Clarke for the third wicket. Afterwards Clarke had to retire on 60 owing to a lower back injury.
"There was a chance that I might not have played this Test. In the first net session on Friday, I was nowhere. Later I took some throwdowns because I couldn't let emotion take over. It is just one of those times when you have to keep soldiering on. Before the game started, I found it quite hard but later regrouped and played with my instinct.
"Then I slowly gained back momentum and survived that a little bit. I just wanted to stay at the crease till lunch," said Warner.
Warner said he was proud of his teammates for taking the field after a tough week. "I am proud of the guys that we were able to walk out and play today. It has been a very tough week for us. Uniting as one and taking the field, it was the proudest moment for us.
"We knuckled down and we are in a good position. I am a little disappointed that I didn't stay till the end. I tried not to hit the spinner over the top all day and when I did, probably my inner demons took over. We have to dig deep now and get as many runs as possible," said the centurion.
Throughout the day there was an outpouring of emotion for late Hughes. Before play started, there were tributes for Hughes read out by Richie Benaud and applause for 63 seconds, but the hardest part was yet to come, at least for Warner.
"When I was on 63, it was just the hardest bit for me. It was just a horrific and rare incident that happened to Hughes, and it was on the back of my mind. Staying on that score, I just didn't feel right. I tried to get past that and tried to move on, but it will always be at the back of our minds for the rest of our careers. Tougher than this will be walking out at the Sydney Cricket Ground and playing where it happened.
"But we are back to business today. It was fantastic that we came out and put runs on the board. It is a good first innings score that we have put up and we just have to keep pushing on. There is a lot of cricket to be played in this match," he said.
India struck back late in the day with the second new ball, taking three wickets in the last hour's play in addition to that of Warner earlier on. "India bowled too short early on in the day and didn't make most of the swing available with the new ball. They improved with the second new ball and got batsmen to drive and therefore got nicks.
"They were scratchy as play started in the day but came back and won the last session. We know that in the next four days, we have to work hard to take 20 wickets and win this game. That will be a hard task but the bowlers know how to do it here," Warner signed off.