IPL – Riyan Parag – I have the power and strength to deal with yorkers, short balls

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In IPL 2023, Riyan Parag managed only 78 runs in seven innings at an average of 13 and strike rate of 118.18. It wasn’t the kind of output Rajasthan Royals would have expected of him, especially after having bought him back for INR 3.8 crore in the auction the previous year. In just two innings this season, both at No. 4, Parag has scored 127 runs at a strike rate of 171.62. The tally included a career-best 84 not out off 45 balls against Delhi Capitals on a tricky pitch in Jaipur on Thursday.
Parag, 22, put his recent success down to the hard work in the lead-up to this IPL season. In the 2023-24 Syed Mustaq Ali Trophy, he had emerged as the top-scorer with 510 runs in ten innings at an average of 85 and strike rate of nearly 183. It included a sequence of seven consecutive half-centuries – a T20 record. Parag had fine-tuned his T20 game by working with Zubin Bharucha, the former Mumbai player, who is the director of high performance at Royals.

“I think it’s a result of a lot of practice behind the scenes,” Parag told the host broadcaster after powering Royals to 185 for 5. “I think it’s not about the bowler but the ball he is bowling and I practiced a lot of those balls and I could execute a few of them tonight.”

In the final over of Royals’ innings, Parag lined up Anrich Nortje, one of the fastest bowlers in the world, and took him for 4, 4, 6, 4, 6. Even bouncers and yorkers were not spared.

“I always have my options ready on both sides of the wicket. That’s what I’ve been working on lately and I just back myself,” Parag said. “I know I’ve got the power and the strength to dig out yorker balls or even hit sixes off the short balls. So, I’m just backing myself and whenever it comes, I’m going to hit a boundary. Sometimes, it does work out and sometimes it doesn’t.”

At one point, Parag was on a run-a-ball 26. Having walked in at 30 for 2 in the sixth over, Parag saw off the early seam movement and rebuilt the innings with R Ashwin, who was promoted to No. 5. He then cut loose in the end overs to hit 58 off his last 19 balls.

“Sanga [Kumar Sangakkara, Royals head coach] came in and Sanju [Samson] bhaiyya [brother] came in and told to take it [the innings] deep. I was confident in myself that if I did take it deep I could get a lot of runs at the end. So someone coming in new…it isn’t that easy. For someone staying and knowing the wicket, it’s easier and I just backed myself.”

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