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Riyan Parag: In the right place at the right time


Riyan_Parag_Rajasthan_Royals_IPL_India_CricketJust 15 years old, a young boy from Guwahati, Assam had a tough call to make. At least, most anyone at that age would feel so. But it took him just moments to make a critical, life-defining decision. He decided his life would be dedicated to cricket now as he chose to walk away from his studies.

The Assam senior team call-up had knocked on his door and Riyan Parag was on his way to take the opportunity with both hands.

A giant leap saw Parag make his First-class debut a week after his 16th birthday. From his selection to the India U19 team for the 2018 edition of the U19 World Cup to playing the semi-final against Pakistan and being bought late on in the IPL, it seemed like the decision to pursue his passion was going to reap rich rewards.

It has been a little over a year since then and Riyan Parag has already made a mark on one of the biggest stages in world cricket- the Indian Premier League. Playing for the Rajasthan Royals, Parag has notched up 160 runs in just 5 innings, averaging 32 with a strike rate of 126. This isn’t all. 2 of his 4 innings have come at crucial junctures and have helped his team get over the line; something the Royals have missed doing more often than not this season. His last innings was a valiant 50 in a losing cause as the rest of the team collapsed around him, only 2 more players reaching double digits.

But it isn’t just about the runs and those important innings. It goes beyond that. Remember the catch he took to dismiss Andre Russell? His near expressionless face showed a calmness beyond his age and meagre experience. While catches were being dropped all around, Parag safely caught one and did not get ruffled by it or the situation. With the kind of performances he has shown this season, claiming Russell’s wicket is enough to excite anyone, especially after seeing catches being dropped. But not Parag, calm and young.

The calmness & concentration in his manner is one of the most special things about him, and it comes out in his batting too. While chasing 162 against the Mumbai Indians, Rajasthan Royals got off to a great start but seemed to go off the rails, losing wickets in quick succession. In came Parag to join Steve Smith. He took the lead, taking the pressure off Smith and allowing him to settle in. Smith then finished things off from where Parag left off and the Royals had a rare victory.

5 days later, Parag showcased yet more evidence of his maturity and poise as he bailed Rajasthan out of trouble against Kolkata, setting the platform for the lower order hitters in the side to take the team through and keep them in the hunt for the playoffs.

Former Aussie skipper Steve Smith was full of praises for Parag.

“Riyan Parag....Isn’t he an impressive young man? He played very composed like a seasoned campaigner.

“He works very hard, he’s a fit and strong young kid. The way he batted, even in the first game that he played, he taught a lot of the experienced players a few lessons, including myself.”

This coming from a great player, you can imagine sort of impact Parag has had.

While we talk about Parag being brilliant and calm under pressure, delivering for his side when called upon, a lot of credit also goes to his franchise- the Rajasthan Royals.

Though the Royals have moved from their image of a low-expense but effective T20 side with their latest spends in the last 2 auctions, they certainly are still the place for getting the best out of the players.

The Royals’ contribution in the development of players and helping them realise their potential goes back to 2008, where the likes of Jadeja and Pathan found a new lease of life. New names have been added to the list year after year, the latest being Riyan Parag.

Rajasthan Royals is known to put faith in young talent and give them opportunities to thrive. The Royals are mentored by Shane Warne, who is a fiercely competitive character and specialises in mentoring young guns. He reads their game well and understands their strengths and weaknesses, helping them become better players.

Coach Paddy Upton also places great confidence in youngsters and gives them responsibilities to go out and achieve big things. He threw Parag into difficult situations knowing that the youngster has nerves of steel. That has helped Parag make a mark for himself and register his name among the next generation of cricketers.

As Parag is still in his early days, the Royals seem to be an ideal place for him to pursue his dreams. Any other team and Parag might not have got his chances. So while the Royals should be happy about having the young Assamese lad in their ranks, Parag should also thank his luck for being with the Royals.

Bigger things await this little dynamo!

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Anubhav is an engineer turned Sports Management professional who decided to make his love and passi...

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