Chennai:The blistering unbeaten triple hundred against South Africa felt a lot sweeter for Virender Sehwag as he wanted to prove a point after being left out of the side for quite some time.
"It hurt a lot when I was out of the team and the motivation helped me to concentrate for a long period in the searing heat," the Delhi opener said after the third day's play of the first cricket Test.
Sehwag missed a year of Test cricket after he was omitted from the side following the tour to South Africa in early 2007.
He returned to the side for the Perth Test against Australia in January and justified his recall with a century in the following Test in Adelaide.
"I had to prove that I belong at this level and wanted to get back my place in the side," he said after remaining unbeaten on 309, equalling his own record he set against Pakistan in Multan in 2004.
Replying to a daunting South African score of 540 demanded total concentration but Sehwag was never kept quiet by the Proteas.
"I maintained my focus throughout my innings as we needed to get close to their total.
"Anil (Kumble) told me that I had to take responsibility but also play my shots as it was important to keep a good run rate," he said.
He said the flat nature of the pitch at the MA Chidambaram Stadium aided his efforts.
"The wicket was true and the ball was coming on with nice bounce. I knew that if I played my shots, I could get to 300 today itself," Sehwag added.
Looking back at his blitzkrieg knock, Sehwag said, "I did not bother whether I was on 99 or 199. If there was a ball to hit, I hit it," he said.
"I grew up like that and it is my natural instinct...here I knew I had a good chance to go for runs," he said.
Asked how it felt, Sehwag said, "I do not have words to describe. I was patient and kept my concentration towards my goal. The wicket was good and outfield was fast. It is rather difficult to set field in Test cricket when a batsman is in such form."
A comparison with the 2004 Multan Test against Pakistan was inevitable and Sehwag said Friday's was a better show.
"I consider this as my best compared to Multan, where the conditions were better. What I have achieved here today equalling that record was in trying conditions. I was also maintaining a run-a-ball rate," he said.
"It was hot and humid. I was losing salt and water. (Physio) Paul Close was sending tender coconut and salt water, which was helping me," said Sehwag as he also acknowledged the help from Irfan Pathan, Yuvraj Singh and Piyush Chawla who maintained a steady supply of the drinks from the dressing room.
On joining Don Bradman and Lara for his two triple hundreds, Sehwag said, "It feels great."