17-year old Rajasthan Royals star Riyan Parag has revealed that he has been following Smriti Mandhana for long now and even tried to copying her batting style, although it didn’t work out. He also shared his experience of playing first ever IPL season and the stardom he has received on social media.
The right-handed batsman from Assam first caught the attention of media when he became the youngest ever player to score a fifty in the history of the IPL, a record previously held by Sanju Samson and Prithvi Shaw.
A crucial part of the U-19 squad that lifted the World Cup in 2018, he was bought by the Rajasthan Royals in the IPL auctions for the base price of 20 lakhs. He went on to score 190 runs in five innings in the tournament, including a match-turning innings against KKR in the group stage that led his team to victory.
When asked about his idols, Riyan Parag has listed a number of names, including the present number one ranked female ODI batsman, Smriti Mandhana. “My dad is one of them(idols). He has to be the first one. Then there’s Sachin sir and Virat Kohli. And in women’s cricket, I’ve followed Smriti Mandhana since she used to wear glasses and play with a BAS bat,” said Parag, reported TOI.
“I was very young then. I love the way she times the ball and caresses it through point. I’ve tried copying that as well but it didn’t work out,” added Parag.
Having already made a name for himself internationally at the age of 15 by hitting three fifties in four innings against England in tests, he was soon handed a debut by Assam in T-20s where he again impressed. He went on to play in the Vijay Hazare trophy where he was his team’s top scorer, before following in the footsteps of his father and making his Ranji debut. A successful World Cup followed, which led to him being handed a contract to play in the IPL at the tender age of 17.
“I have learnt a lot from my first IPL stint. In IPL, you play with your idols and legends of the game. Just to share the dressing room with them was surreal,” he quoted.
“The time I felt really nervous was before the match against Kolkata Knight Riders. I don’t have a great record at the Eden Gardens. Before the KKR game, I’d scored nine runs in each of the three innings I’d played there. So the knock I played there is the most special one for me this season. I feel pressure brings out my A-game,” he added, referring to his quickfire 47 off 31 balls which culminated in a successful run chase of 176 for his team in a crucial encounter.
Though adept in all the three formats of the game, most of his success has come in the shortest version of the game and has been a major reason behind him being catapulted to fame. Hence, it does not come as a surprise that when asked about how he prepares for his games, he said, ”Actually, I hate batting in the nets. It’s just the closed environment. I feel someone has got a hold of me and I am like captured and locked. Even before the match, I try to hit as many sixes as possible.”
Labelled as the find of IPL 2019, the performances have resulted in widespread recognition on social media. His Instagram posts have been filled with fans expressing their appreciation for his game and motivating him to do even better. And Parag didn’t shy away from revealing it.
“Yes, I do. I had this conversation with Ben Stokes after the Mumbai match this season, where I did well and contributed with the bat. I asked him if he reads comments online and he said he does no matter how he performed on the field that day. You can’t really hide from that. If you post something on Instagram, people are going to tell you things on your face. And you’re bound to read the comments. But like I said, it’s all about keeping things simple and not thinking about it too much,” concluded Riyan.
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