Sachin Tendulkar provided further evidence of his genius with a superb century against Australia on Friday.
The 34-year-old scored an unbeaten 154 to help his team to take a 69-run first innings lead over Australia after tormenting Australia's fearsome bowling attack for almost seven hours.
It was the Indian maestro's 38th test hundred, more than any other player in history, but he celebrated like it was his first, thrusting his arms into the air and embracing batting partner Harbhajan Singh.
For a player who has already scored so many hundreds, Tendulkar's animated celebration was slightly out of character but he said he was relieved after a relatively lean 2007. "It was a little different this time because in 2007 I missed a lot of hundreds and I didn't want that to continue," he told a news conference. "I wanted to move on and in the year 2008 the beginning of the year is extremely important. It came at the right time so I am happy about that."
Tendulkar left the Sydney Cricket Ground to a standing ovation in what is possibly his last test match at a venue he has developed a long lasting love affair with. He scored an unbeaten double-century on his last visit to Sydney four years ago and now averages an astonishing 326 in four test appearances at the world's third oldest test ground.
"It's one of my favourite grounds. I've really enjoyed batting here every moment. It's truly been memorable, all my outings," he said.
"Sometimes you walk onto a field and it gives you a good feeling. It's one of those grounds that I really enjoy batting."
Tendulkar has made a habit out of making big scores against the Australians and said the challenge of playing them brought out the best in him. "They are the best side in the world. It's good when you perform well against the top side in the world," he said. "It's a great challenge. "I've always enjoyed the competition. It's a challenge to rise up to the occasion and beat them. That's what the whole world is trying to do."
(Editing by Alastair Himmer)