Senior Parag confident son Riyan will play for India

Riyan Parag
Riyan Parag (PC: X)

The first-ever Indian Premier League (IPL) match in Guwahati will be played on May 15. This gentleman will not go the stadium to watch. He is interested in cricket and has played for his state. Still, he won’t be among the thousands set to pack the stands.

Parag Das prefers being in front of the TV. The former opener says the multiple angles and replays help him pick details he would miss from the gallery. He has to watch things minutely, so that he can explain them better, while analysing the game with his son Riyan Parag, the Rajasthan Royals star.

“My wife and other family members might be at the ground. I don’t go anywhere because we talk after almost every match,” Parag told RevSportz. The father is a hard taskmaster. “If I don’t watch properly, I won’t be able to tell where he is going wrong and what he has to do. For example, he should have finished the job before getting out in the last match (against Lucknow Super Giants).”

Parag played 43 first-class matches for Assam and East Zone. Riyan’s mother, Mithu Barua represented India in swimming. Exposed to both sports as a child, he quickly took to cricket. “Riyan used to cry when thrown into the pool and do the drills with a plastic bat when I went for practice,” said Parag, the first coach of his son, who has been a transformed player this season.

Riyan was the top-scorer in the Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy T20s, with 510 runs in 10 innings. He made seven half-centuries with a strike rate of 182.79 and led Assam into the semi-finals. Riyan got injured after four Ranji Trophy matches, in which he made two centuries and a fifty.

He has carried that form forward. The youngest to score an IPL half-century, when he was 17-plus in 2019, Riyan has found the missing element called consistency. He is the highest-scorer for his team with 408 runs from 10 outings, with four fifties and a strike-rate of 159.14. His performance has played a part in making Rajasthan Royals one of the better sides in IPL 2024 so far.

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Riyan Parag in action
Riyan Parag in action (PC: X)

“If asked to explain in one word, I’d say maturity,” pointed out Parag. “Riyan did well in the first season. After that, teams started dissecting his game and made things tougher for him. He was assigned the finisher’s job at No. 6 or 7, which is difficult for a youngster. This year, they have given him the No. 4 slot. He has matured enough to make the most of this opportunity.”

A member of Prithvi Shaw’s team, which won the U-19 World Cup in 2018, Riyan was not a contender for a place in the T20 World Cup squad. But he has a great chance of becoming the first Assam player to represent the senior national side when it travels to Zimbabwe for five T20Is in July.

“I’m sure he will play for India. If playing cricket, he has to do that. We had made this clear from the beginning. Alternately, there were plans of sending him to the National Defence Academy,” said Parag. “There’s no point playing Ranji Trophy and Duleep Trophy like me. He has to aim big.”

The 47-year old cited an incident from his playing days to illustrate this. “In a Duleep Trophy game against South Zone, I got out for 73 before lunch. My opening partner Devang Gandhi was 14 or 15. He ended the day unbeaten on 187. Devang had the hunger to play for India and he did that. That’s what I want from Riyan.”

His son’s career moves have been planned accordingly, with the biggest goal in mind. “He had offers to play for other states. But we thought making runs for Assam against strong teams like Mumbai, Karnataka, Bengal will get him more attention. He is a hardworking person with positive vibes. He has learnt to assess situations,” said the father.

Chosen as a ‘home venue’ by Rajasthan Royals with an eye on capturing the imagination of the north-east, Guwahati will celebrate when Riyan turns out against Punjab Kings in the first of the two matches at the stadium in Barsapara. An expectant countdown to a bigger celebration will begin in front of a TV somewhere else in the city.

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