Indian run-machine Virat Kohli has credited the team's throwdown trio of D Raghvendra, Nuwan Seneviratne and Dayanand Garani for making a "big difference" to his batting. (More Cricket News)
The throwdown specialists use a sidearm, a cricketing equipment in the shape of a long spoon, to hurl the ball at high speed (in the range of 140-150kmph) to test the batters at nets.
"All three of them have given us world-class practice every time we play. They challenge us in the nets like any 145 or 150kmph pace bowlers. They always try to get us out and make sure that they test us regularly," Kohli told young Indian opener Shubman Gill in an interaction on BCCI.tv after the third and final ODI against Sri Lanka in Thiruvananthapuram.
"At times, it feels very intense. For me that has been the difference in my career, to be very honest.... From where I was as a cricketer before I started getting this kind of practice to where I am today."
Karnataka's Raghavendra, who is fondly known as 'Raghu' joined the BCCI from the National Cricket Academy, and was the first to join Team India. He would regularly give throwdowns to batting maestro Sachin Tendulkar and former Indian captain MS Dhoni.
India then hired left-handed Sri Lankan Seneviratne in 2018 to help them prepare for left-arm pacers.
A civic volunteer in Kolkata Police, Dayanand, who was with Kings XI Punjab, was roped in by Team India after Raghu tested positive for COVID-19 in 2020 and has become a permanent support staff since then.
"A lot of credit has to go to these guys, who have given us practice regularly and their contribution has been unbelievable. You guys should remember their names and faces because, behind our success, a lot of effort has been put in by these guys," Kohli said.
Gill, who was interviewing Kohli, was quick to add: "These three combined would have had 1200 to 1500 wickets. They prepare us for all kinds of conditions heading into the match."
India thrashed Sri Lanka by 317 runs in the final ODI to sweep the series 3-0, with Kohli notching two hundreds from three matches.
Terming it an ideal start to the ODI World Cup year, Kohli said: "It's been a great start. It's been a while since I started the year like this... getting a hundred and then scoring two hundreds in the series and also becoming the Man of the Series."
"I am just happy that in the World Cup year, I am able to start like this, and I know I can be consistent. When I start like this, and I start feeling confident, then things usually go well," he said.
"The team is gelling well as a batting unit, you guys have been phenomenal at the top."
Kohli went on to congratulate Gill for scoring his first century at home as the youngster converted his start to make a sublime 116 off 97 balls.
"Congratulations for your first hundred in India. You deserved to get one in the first match. Today also you played phenomenally well and many more at home and away will come in the future."
"I really enjoyed batting with Shubman. We haven't batted for very long many times. But today was the day where we had a good partnership and it really helped the team as well," said Kohli.
The duo shared 131 runs for the second wicket as India posted a massive 390/5 before skittling out Sri Lanka for 73.
"It was disappointing to get out in the first ODI. I was looking to go big in that match, but unfortunately, nahi ho paaya (could not).
"In Kolkata too, I was playing well, but failed to convert my start. Aaj yahi tha ki agar start milta hai to lamba jaane ki koshish karunga (Today I just wanted to take it deep). I have felt in Test matches as well that I left a bit of a run there."
Crediting Kohli for motivating him and changing the tempo of the match, Gill said: "While we were in the middle, you told me that today I am going to score big and you changed the rhythm right from the word go."