Riyan Parag: Assam searching for a ‘few more’ upset wins this season

The 17-year-old cricketer hopes to help his team make the playoffs in the Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy.

Riyan Parag at the Bandra Kurla Complex, Mumbai, on Thursday. Photo: Shayan Acharya

From being just another young cricketer to basking in the spotlight, Riyan Parag has had quite an adventure.

Riyan, who turns 18 this Sunday, became the talking point during the Indian Premier League earlier this year with his all-round performance. Featuring in his first big-ticket league, Riyan amassed 160 runs and bagged a couple of wickets for Rajasthan Royals. His spirited show earned him praise from top international stars like Steve Smith and Ben Stokes.

As he gears up for the Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy, the Assam cricketer wants to use his IPL experience and make opportunities count. “T20 is a different ball-game altogether. It’s about 120 balls, one has to be much calculative and there is a lot of risk involved. I want to bring whatever I experiences I have and contribute to my team,” Riyan told Sportstar at the Bandra Kurla Complex here on Thursday.

‘Disappointing tournament’

After an indifferent run in the Vijay Hazare Trophy — he scored only 128 runs in nine games and took 13 wickets — Riyan admitted that he had learned from his mistakes. “Vijay Hazare Trophy was a disappointing tournament. I don’t shy from saying that. I was bad with the bat, but I did contribute with the ball, which I am happy about. I will bring that confidence in the T20s as well,” the youngster said.

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After the IPL, there was a bit of break and Riyan spent extra hours at the nets, focussing on his bowling. It paid dividends in the Vijay Hazare Trophy. “I just polished my technique a bit and learned from my mistakes. Fitness is a big part of the game. And definitely, a lot of hours went in for my bowling. Whatever hours I have put in for my bowling, I am getting rewards for it,” he said.

“In this T20s now, and in IPL, I will be fruitful with the ball because I have worked hard on my variations,” he said.

‘Good opportunity’

Taking on a heavyweight Bengal side in the tournament opener would be challenging for Assam. But Riyan was confident. “We rarely play in Mumbai. We get good wickets here, so it’s a good opportunity for batters and bowlers to show their skills. Last year, we did pretty well, beating a few big teams. We would like to cause a few more upsets and qualify for the playoffs,” he said.

With the IPL auction scheduled next month, even Riyan understood that a good performance here could open the doors for the players. He admitted that the auction did play in every player’s mind. “Even if we don’t want to think about the IPL auction, everyone has it on their mind. But it’s about enjoying the game and contributing to the team’s success,” he said.

The IPL changed his life and as another season beckons, the Gauhati boy is ready to chase his dreams again.