Rajasthan Royals all-rounder Riyan Parag believes Chennai Super Kings skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni has mastered the role of a finisher, and nobody comes anywhere close to the former India captain.
The 21-year-old from Guwahati, who will be playing his fifth IPL this year, added that while he is happy donning the role of a finisher, if given a choice, he would like to bat at No. 4 in the tournament.
"If they (Royals) were to ask me where I want to bat, I would say No. 4. But, then, like always, I am open to bat wherever the team needs me and wherever they think I fit the best. It is a team game; whichever way the combinations match up, I am happy to contribute," Parag told PTI.
"I have been doing the finishing role for the last three years now. There is just one name that comes to my mind which I also have said before, MS Dhoni. I do not think anyone else has mastered that art. Going into that role, I always look up to him, how he finishes games or how he takes the game deep," Parag added.
Parag is confident of a strong show in the IPL on the back of a successful domestic season for Assam, having had a largely unfulfilled stint in the T20 competition in the last four editions.
He had just one half-century in the IPL last season and scored 183 runs in 17 games at an average of 16.64.
Parag, a member of the U-19 World Cup-winning squad in 2018, was a prolific scorer in the in 2022-23 Vijay Hazare Trophy, scoring the fifth-highest number of runs -- 552 at an average of 69 in in nine games with three centuries and a half-ton.
In the Syed Mushtaq Ali T20 Trophy, the right-hander scored 253 runs at a strike rate of 165.35 with two fifties.
"I had a very good domestic season and, in the build-up for the IPL, we have had a few camps in Jaipur. Everyone has looked in good touch with both the bat and the ball. I do not think the confidence part has changed; I have always been confident. The performances have come through, so that adds a different dimension to the mental state that any player has. When you are confident and have performances to back you, it gives an extra oomph of self-confidence," he said. Parag said he has also worked hard to improve his bowling. "I feel there has been a big improvement (in my leg-breaks) since I have bowled a lot of overs this season. I have bowled more than 350 overs. I put in a lot of work in my bowling so that I am able to chip in whenever my team needs me," he said.
Parag has had his share of social media trolling, but he says it does not affect him anymore.
"Earlier, it did affect me and it hampered my performance. But now I am pretty straight on what I want to do on social media. I have a lot of strong opinions; I just like to state them and I am not waiting for anyone else to reply or give their opinions," he said.