In a big boost for the Indian team, Throwdown Specialist D Raghavendra, who recently recovered from COVID-19, has joined the team's nets in Sydney after completing his quarantine.
Raghavendra, who is popularly known as Raghu, is an integral part of the Indian support staff especially in overseas conditions with his ability to hurl the ball at speeds of 150 kmph and more using the sidearm -- a cricketing equipment shaped like a long spoon used for throwdowns.
He could not travel to Australia with the rest of the team as he had tested positive for COVID-19 last month.
'The throwdown specialist of the Indian team. Look, who is here. Welcome back, Raghu! #TeamIndia's training assistant is back in the nets and is just getting started,' BCCI said on Monday.
Captain Virat Kohli has credited Raghu to the Indian batsmen's improved showing against fast bowling.
'I believe the improvement this team has shown while playing fast bowling since 2013 has been because of Raghu,' Kohli had said during an Instagram session with Bangladesh batsman Tamim Iqbal in May.
'He has good concepts about footwork, bat movement of players. He has improved his skills so much that from sidearm he easily hurls the balls at 155 kmph.'
'After playing Raghu in nets, when you go into the match, you feel there is a lot of time,' he added.
Mahendra Singh Dhoni used to call Raghu the 'foreign pacer' in the Indian squad.
Raghu, who hails from Kumta district in north Karnataka, was employed with the National Cricket Academy as a training assistant from 2008 to 2011 before he joined the Indian team.
All the top Indian batsmen in the last decade or so -- including Sachin Tendulkar, Rahul Dravid, Dhoni, Kohli and K L Rahul -- prefer to take throwdowns from Raghu's sidearm to improve their batting against the pace bowlers.
Not a surprise that Raghu twice got offers from the England and Wales Cricket Board, which he turned down as he is happy serving his country.
Raghu, who dreamt of becoming a cricketer in his youth, once spent the night in a graveyard in Mumbai when he had come to meet Tendulkar as had no money to stay in a hotel. Over the years, he became Tendulkar's favourite and was invited to stay at the legend's house in Mumbai whenever he came down to help him prepare for overseas tours.
With Raghu back in the nets, the Indian batsmen will be feeling quite confident of taming the Australian pace battery.