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Life outside cricket affects you, didn't start off well for me: Parag

Source: PTI
April 15, 2024 20:59 IST
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IMAGE: Riyan Parag is enjoying a strong run in the ongoing IPL season. Photograph: BCCI

Facing relentless trolling isn't easy, especially when you have barely crossed teens but Riyan Parag's cricketing journey hasn't exactly been a bed of roses in that sense.

After only 600 runs from 54 matches across previous seasons that invited merciless criticism, heavy duty trolling and meme-fest on social media, Riyan 2.0 has burst onto the IPL 2024, with renewed vigour that has so far yielded 284 runs. He is only second to Virat Kohli in run aggregator's list.


There aren't over-the-top celebrations, his only statements have come through his willow and finally he understood how to deal with life beyond 22 yards.

"Life on the outside of cricket really affects you. And that's one big major part which has played in my career is how I deal with it," Parag said ahead of Rajasthan Royals's IPL game against KKR in Kolkata on Tuesday.

He has never had an average of more than 17 in his previous seasons and his best ever return with the bat was in his maiden year, when he aggregated 160 from seven outings at 32.00.

"It didn't really start out well, I took a lot of things to heart, that were being said about me, etc, whatever it was. I just had to figure out what mattered to me, whose opinions mattered to me, and I figured that out eventually and that has helped," said Parag, who during last year's Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy T20 tournament after scoring a half-century against Bengal, had made a celebratory gesture that he is cut above everyone.

He faced a lot of criticism, at times rightly so, for his on-field antics. More so, because performances weren't coming through.

But under Zubin Bharucha's guidance at the Royals Academy in Talegaon, things changed as he worked hard on his game, fitness and results showed in every domestic tournament this year.

His name is doing rounds as a possible contender in the Indian team for the T20 World Cup in USA and West Indies but realistically, itis the tour of Sri Lanka and Zimbabwe, where he has more realistic chance of making the cut.

"I’m not really thinking about it (World Cup) to be very honest. If you told me last year I'd be in this position, I would not believe you," Parag said.

"So I'm just really glad to be doing what I am doing, and I just want to continue that. I want to take it one game at a time, and focus on how I can win more matches for the team, because that's more important.

Before this IPL, Parag averaged 13.00 in 2022 aggregating just 78 runs from seven matches but being promoted to No. 4 by Kumar Sangakkara has changed the course of his career.

"Cricketing-wise, I think playing at No. 4 is, again, something which I'm used to doing in domestic cricket in different situations, more common situations, actually. But yeah, it's been a mix of both, emotionally and skill-wise."

“I feel I’'ve been contributing a lot to the team and that's what I've been trying to do for the last few years, it hasn't really clicked. This time it has and I just want to continue that," he said.

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