IPL 2024
“He’s still a very, very young cricketer” – Kumar Sangakkara on Riyan Parag
By SMCS - Mar 28, 2024 10:18 am
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Rajasthan Royals backed the young and talented Riyan Parag for the sixth successive season of the Indian Premier League. And, finally, he has been repaying the faith of his franchise. In the 54 games of his first five seasons, he played a finisher mostly and averaged merely 16.22 at a strike rate of 123.97. Only Washington Sundar had a worse strike rate in positions 6,7 and 8 (among batters who have played at least 20 innings since Parag’s debut) as well. However, Kumar Sangakkara, the Royals’ Director of Cricket, is hoping that the recent rise to the Indian team of his IPL teammates Yashasvi Jaiswal and Dhruv Jurel could help Parag as well.

Riyan Parag
Riyan Parag

“He’s seen the huge jumps that Jaiswal and Jurel have made, and he’s got a hunger there now and an example to follow into the international side,” Sangakkara said before the Royals’ game against Delhi Capitals in Jaipur. “We have players who have a variety of ambitions, IPL being one of them. I think he has understood that how he performs here, leads up to it. Maturing, understanding his game more, taking on more responsibility is non-negotiable for him.”

However, Riyan Parag has enjoyed a good season in domestic cricket, which includes top-scoring in the recently concluded Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy – all at a strike rate of 182.79 as well. A lot has changed in Parag since the last season and Sangakkara said that he believes, it is the maturity that has come in Parag.

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“The biggest thing we’ve seen in Riyan is maturity. Irrespective of the support we offer players and whatever coaches you have, self-awareness of what your game is, what is good for you, what your lifestyle should look like in terms of on-field, off-field, focus on performance – all of that has changed in Riyan,” he said. “He’s still a very, very young cricketer. We shouldn’t forget that, he’s also been hugely in the focus over the years as one of the faces of the franchise of the younger brigade.”

Riyan Parag
Riyan Parag

However, Riyan Parag has started the 2024 season with a stunning knock against Lucknow Super Giants in the Royals’ opening match of the season, in Jaipur. He scored well while batting at No. 4 and the team management backed him to play at his preferred spot as well.

“I think it was a cricketing decision we made (to play Parag at No 4 against Lucknow Super Giants),” he said. “We looked at how he has performed over the years. It’s a very difficult thing for someone like Riyan who has an overall game just to always only get the toughest parts of the game where he has to come in and up the run rate at the death. We all felt that he has a much more important role that he can play for us.”

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“And the hard work that he has done leading up to the season, all the runs he has scored at the domestic cricket all played a part in that decision. All players, of course, have to repay that faith as well and he’s off to a great start. He just has to keep working on just making sure he reads the game well and keep trusting what he can do at No. 4. He’s good against pace and again so that important position of four was ideally suited for him,” Kumar Sangakkara concluded.