Riyan Parag
© Ali Bharmal
Cricket

Riyan Parag: “Last two years have been tough for me”

The young cricketer reflects on the year 2021 and how the upcoming Ranji Trophy season will play a vital role in his plans to get into Team India.
Written by Deepti Patwardhan
5 min readPublished on
Riyan Parag is one of the most promising young all-rounders in Indian cricket.
The youngster announced himself on the big stage by becoming the youngest player to score a half-century in India’s biggest franchise T20 cricket League. A swashbuckling batsman and handy leg-break bowler, Riyan has also had a successful stint with his Assam state team.
Indian cricket all-rounder Riyan Parag
Riyan Parag
The 20-year-old, who has learnt how to cope with the “outside noise”, talks about his season ahead and the ultimate goal of breaking into the Indian team.

What do you consider your highest and lowest points of 2021?

Some of the highs would be the domestic tournaments; I think they went really well for me. From a cricket standpoint, that was the high point for me in 2021. Lows would be the T20 season of course. I did not perform for Rajasthan Royals how I wanted to or how I expected myself to.

In 2019, you became the youngest player to score a fifty in the league? How did you deal with the spotlight? Is there pressure to live up to it?

I think there’s pressure only if you think about it. You need to just enjoy the game. The outside noise doesn’t matter that much. But the last two years have been really tough for me. You go through a lot of social media and stuff even if you try and ignore it. And it stays in your mind. But I have learnt how to handle it.
Indian cricket all-rounder Riyan Parag
Riyan Parag

What are the technical improvements you have made this year?

There have been a few tweaks here and there but nothing really prominent. A few things I’ve done in batting and bowling. I always do more bowling than batting in practise sessions. It’s just that I haven’t really bowled as well as I expected to. I am working on some new stuff and hopefully the next year brings me more luck.

Which batting position are you most comfortable at and why?

As far as T20 is concerned, No 4 or No 5 is ideal for me. But I couldn’t fit in there (for Rajasthan Royals) because we had different players who were filling those spots. I am more than happy to take that No 6 or No 7 slot and finish the game for my team. But again, I wasn’t as successful as I wanted to be.
Indian cricket all-rounder Riyan Parag
Riyan Parag

Do you think consistency will come with experience?

Definitely experience is one important thing. The more the number of matches you play and the more innings that you play, the more you learn and grow. But I am not really thinking about it, just taking it one game at a time.

You are obviously surrounded with the best players in Rajasthan Royals. Which is the best piece of advice you have got?

They are world class players and we get to learn a lot from them, on as well as off the field. Something that I have really taken up from the English guys is to realize that it’s just a game at the end of the day. We hype it up a lot. But at the end of the day it’s just a game.
Indian cricket all-rounder Riyan Parag
Riyan Parag

2021 was the first time that the Ranji Trophy wasn't held. Did you miss it, and how important is the tournament for an upcoming talent like you?

It’s a different challenge altogether. T20 and 50 overs are tough. But the Ranji Trophy is the highest level of cricket played on the domestic circuit in India. I did miss it. But I am really looking forward to playing the Ranji Trophy starting January 2022. We’ve got a good prepping camp and then straight to Mumbai to play the Ranji Trohpy. I’m excited!

What is the target you have given yourself to break into the Indian team?

I think it is simple, you have to perform on the domestic circuit and once the T20 league starts, you have to perform your best there. There are no shortcuts to get into the Indian team. As I said, I am taking it one game at a time and just hope that the Ranji season goes well so I can look ahead (to the Indian team).
Indian cricket all-rounder Riyan Parag
Riyan Parag

Lovlina Borgohain became the first athlete from Assam to win an Olympic medal. What will this acheivement do for sport in the state?

It is going to help sport in Assam a lot. She is very young and a lot of young players and athletes look up to her. Even Hima (Das); what she did in the Youth Games (Gold medal in 400m at the IAAF World U-20 Championships in 2018) is a big boost for athletics. We have got more budding youngsters and talent in Assam so they will definitely learn from them.

Apart from cricketers, who are the athletes you follow or admire?

(Football star) Cristiano Ronaldo, of course. Also Connor McGregor from MMA. I admire not just their work ethic and dedication towards sport but also how they handle themselves and how they handle the business outside of sport as well.