Adelaide:"I prefer not to count them," Sachin Tendulkar said on Thursday after hitting his 80th international century which he described as a "special one".
After smashing an unbeaten 124 against Australia on the first day of the fourth and final cricket Test, Tendulkar told journalists that the innings was a "special one". He had never scored a hundred at Adelaide before.
Reminded about narrowly missing centuries last year, the master batsman said "it's not like easing the pain (of last year). When I am getting it (centuries), I prefer not to count them.
"Then it's just not about scoring centuries. There's a lot more to cricket than just this. I want to focus on the task at hand and if I end up scoring a hundred, fantastic," he said.
The Adelaide crowd gave Tendulkar a standing ovation when he came out to bat and at the end of the day and Australian leg-spinner Brad Hogg, whom he punished severely during the day's play, made no secret of his admiration for the batting genius.
"It's just fantastic to be in the same park as against someone of his calibre. He deserves standing ovation when he comes out. He's a fantastic player to watch," Hogg said.
"It's a great privilege to be part of (welcome that Tendulkar gets). He is one of the greatest the world has ever seen," he added.
The Adelaide Oval has not been a happy hunting ground for Tendulkar and the batsman said he was relieved that he finally came up with a big knock.
"It hasn't been a great ground for me. I scored a 65 here in 1999-2000 series and since then it hasn't been a good venue for me. I was determined to make this count," he said.
Tendulkar has now scored a century in all Test venues he has played in Australia except Brisbane, with Sydney (3) and Perth (2) being his favourites.
Tendulkar rated this innings high on two counts - he gauged it early that he was in good nick and that he shifted gears according to the ebb and flow of the game.
"When I drove Brett Lee down the ground I hit it exactly the way I wanted to do it. Then, when I hit a couple of drives off Mitchell Johnson at the other end.
"This innings was a special one because I could play it on the merit of the ball. When I needed to be defensive I could do out and when I wanted to hit, I could do it as well," he said.
It was one such aggressive moment when Tendulkar picked 10 runs off successive balls to reach the coveted figure and he explained the reason for such aggressive posturing.
"The wind was behind me, I used it to clear the field. I knew even if I didn't time the ball well, it would still clear the rope."
"I prefer to play the ball on merit and the next one was there to be hit so I went for it," Tendulkar said.
Tendulkar looked ahead at India's remaining innings in the first knock, stating it was important to be vigilant against the second new ball.
"The second new ball is important. It would be a key to see off the first spell of all three fast bowlers.
"I thought Lee bowled a fantastic spell (with the old ball). He's been their top bowler throughout the series, he's not given us any breathing space at all," he said.
"In the first innings a big total would be a key. This wicket will surely help spinners, there is already bounce for them. It surely would have cracks getting wider as the match progresses," Tendulkar added.
Tendulkar advised Mahendra Singh Dhoni, who grafted six runs from 54 balls today, not to curb his strokes and play his natural game tomorrow.
"He is a gifted cricketer and he should play his natural game," was Tendulkar's advice to the vice-captain.
Tendulkar also thanked the Adelaide crowd for their reception which he said made the century special.
"The reception was absolutely fantastic. I am overwhelmed by the gesture of the spectators and I want to thank them.
Their support makes the century special.
"It has been a fun this series Down Under. It has been very good so far. I feel good to be among runs," he said.