Riyan Parag 2.0 shuts out the noise

Riyan Parag
Riyan Parag (PC: X)

Five years ago, in the pink city of Jaipur, yours truly had an opportunity to interview Riyan Parag, a star in the making. At the age of just 17, he had already played in an Under-19 World Cup for India, alongside showing enough potential in his maiden Indian Premier League (IPL) season for Rajasthan Royals. During the course of that interview, his confidence was unmistakable. The volley of questions was answered with the thought process of a cricketer who seemed to have played a fair amount of games at the highest level for his country.

The next four years, however, didn’t exactly go the way Parag and his well-wishers had imagined. Yes, in 2022-23, the Assam cricketer aggregated a deluge of runs in the shorter formats in domestic cricket. Unfortunately, success mostly eluded him in the IPL. So much so that, for a while, he was better known for being trolled on social media platforms.

Right at that juncture, one wondered how could a player who had that spark in his eyes during the interview slip away from the radar? The glint in his eyes seemed to be that of an achiever. It was last year where Parag perhaps decided enough was enough and it was time for him to carve out the right path. He topped the charts in the Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy and was akin to a lone ranger for his state in the Ranji Trophy.

In the subsequent IPL, Parag has had his best season, accumulating close to 550 runs so far. Incidentally, he is currently slotted in at the fourth place in the Orange Cap race. Parag, batting at the No. 4 slot, hasn’t just been consistent, but also done the heavy lifting when his team has found itself on a slippery rope. 

Even when Rajasthan Royals’ fortunes went on a downhill path, it was Parag who tried to lift the sagging spirits against Chennai Super Kings and Punjab Kings, top-scoring on both occasions. That Parag had some promise and loads of self-belief was a foregone conclusion. He has finally supplemented his skills with sound temperament. 

Here’s what Suryakumar Yadav, the India cricketer, had to say about Parag’s transformation via his X handle: “Met a guy at the NCA a few weeks ago. He came with a slight niggle. Completely focused on his recovery and with great discipline working on his skills. And I was not wrong to tell that to one of the coaches there ‘He is a changed guy’. RIYAN PARAG 2.0.”

All eyes would again be fixed on ‘Parag 2.0’ to spearhead RR’s floundering campaign when they lock horns against Royal Challengers Bengaluru in a must-win Eliminator game in Ahmedabad. Cricket, though, is a team game and the rest of the batting unit has to provide the required support to the duet of Sanju Samson and Parag in order to steer the RR ship back in the right direction.