For a long time, Assam found it hard to compete and lost more games than it won. Until Riyan Parag came.
Assam has 39 wins in 84 matches in the Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy (SMAT), and 22 of these victories have come since 2017 – when Parag began featuring in the playing eleven.
And now, the 21-year-old, captaining Assam for the first time in SMAT, has led Assam to its first-ever semifinal of the T20 tournament and is set to face Baroda at PCA IS Bindra Stadium here on Saturday.
It won’t be an exaggeration to say that the all-rounder has almost single-handedly pulled Assam into the top four, having scored 502 runs in nine innings while averaging 100.49 and striking at 186.61.
In the process, he also became the first player to record seven consecutive 50-plus scores in T20 cricket.
Even in the bowling department, Parag is the highest wicket-taker for his team, with 11 scalps, and has been bowling at an economy of seven.
He has found support from teammates Sumit Ghadigoankar, who scored 75 in the quarterfinal against Kerala, and Rishav Das in the batting department, while Akash Sengupta has led the bowling unit.
For Baroda, a potent attack, consisting of Atit Sheth, Lukman Meriwala, Krunal Pandya, Soyeb Sopariya and Abhimanyusingh Rajput, will be key in keeping the batters quiet as the team eyes its fifth final.
Baroda, which defeated Mumbai in the quarterfinals, looks well-balanced.
Krunal has been the spine of the team, scoring 270 runs while averaging 90, and has taken six wickets at an economy rate of 5.32. Krunal doing the holding job from one end has also allowed the others to attack.
In a day-night game in cool and calm Mohali, Baroda will be up against an inspired youngster who promises to usher in a new era of Assam cricket.
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