Sydney: Former Australia captain Ricky Ponting finally ended his two-year wait for a Test century on Wednesday with a score of 134 against India and said the battling knock had revitalised his confidence.
The 37-year-old played on as a batsman after quitting as skipper last March, but had gone 34 Test innings without a hundred, prompting calls for him to make way for a younger player.
But Ponting, playing in his 160th Test, looked in no mood to move aside as he and current skipper Michael Clarke put India to the sword on the second day of the second Test in Sydney.
Ponting, Test cricket's third-highest run-scorer, put on 288 with double-centurion Clarke - the highest stand for any Australian wicket against India - leaving the tourists with a mountain to climb to save the match.
It eclipsed the 239-run partnership Ponting and Steve Waugh put on in Adelaide in 1999.
"Confidence in our game is an amazing thing. Over the last couple of weeks, I’ve been able to spend a bit of time in the middle," Ponting said.
"And after this innings, I’ll have more confidence about my game than I’ve had for a long time now.
"The bottom line is self-belief. If you believe you can do it, then you can keep doing it. If the day comes where you wake up in the morning and can’t find any way to make yourself a better player then you’re wasting your time."
Ponting, dropped by wicketkeeper M.S. Dhoni on 10 late Tuesday, batted for 335 minutes and faced 225 balls with 14 fours for his 134 - his 40th Test century and first since scoring 209 against Pakistan in Hobart in January 2010.
The veteran from Tasmania said he felt a big score was imminent after hitting 62 and 60 in last week's Melbourne Test.
"I wouldn’t be playing if I didn’t think I could do it and I think over the last few weeks there’s been enough signs to know and have faith that there was a big score just around the corner," he said.
Ponting raised triple figures in dramatic fashion when he dived full length scampering for a single on 99 to beat Zaheer Khan's throw from mid-on.
"I know that I was probably out by two yards if the ball hit the stumps," he said.
"Bit of brain fade, I guess. I hit it through the gap and it just got to him quicker than I thought it would. Thankfully he missed or it would have been a pretty sad end to what could have been a good day.
"But I got up and my shirt was pretty much destroyed, my grill was pressed against my face and I was spitting out bits of the wicket so I could try and smile."
His wife, Rianna, watching from the stands, said the dirtied shirt would be auctioned for the Ponting Foundation set up for children's cancer.
The Sydney Cricket Ground, hosting its 100th Test, has been a happy hunting ground for Ponting. He is the leading all-time scorer at the venerable ground, with 1,480 runs and six centuries.
Ponting was finally out shortly before tea when he sliced to Sachin Tendulkar in the gully off Ishant Sharma.