Warner posted 145 at The Adelaide Oval on Tuesday in The Baggy Greens’ first match since Hughes passed away after being struck on the neck by a bouncer from Sean Abbott in a Sheffield Shield game.
The left-hander raised his bat to the sky when reaching 50, 63 – the score Hughes was on when he received his fatal blow – and his ton.
Warner was playing against Hughes when he was hit and also scored his maiden Test hundred, against New Zealand in Hobart in 2011, while in the same side as the fallen 25-year-old.
“Out of the 10 [Test centuries] that I’ve scored now, that was probably the best,” said Warner. “I owe that to him [Hughes]. It’s been an emotional week for all of us and I know he’ll be proud of us.
“I knew the little man up there was with me at the other end and it all fell into place. I like to do a little bit of a celebration but that was definitely for him today.”
On paying tribute to Hughes when he moved onto 63, Warner said: “It was something that was in the back of my mind. It’s going to be a special number for all of us for many years to come.
“It was a bit emotional. Michael [Clarke] said to me to take my time and I did. I had a bit of a tear in my eye there. For however long my career goes, it’s going to be special for me.”
Warner admitted he has found it extremely difficult to deal with Hughes’ death, having been fielding for New South Wales against South Australia when the incident happened.
And the 28-year-old said he played with “instinct” against India on Tuesday following a series of tributes to Hughes, including a 63-second applause before play commenced in Adelaide.
“Being there on the day that it happened, it was quite tough,” he added. “The memories are still stuck in my head.
“I spoke a lot to Michael Lloyd, our (sport psychologist), and the support of everyone on social media, the group around us and my fiancee Candice, has been amazing.
“It was quite tough early on there, with the 63-second applause and getting through that national anthem. That was probably what set me off.
“Coming out and playing the way I did, there was a lot of adrenaline there. It was all instinct, that’s how I play.”