Setbacks are a big part of the game, I've to stick to what works for me: Parag | Crickit
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Setbacks are a big part of the game, I've to stick to what works for me: Riyan Parag

By, Mumbai
Aug 07, 2023 04:34 PM IST

The all-rounder overcame a poor IPL season to be adjudged Player-of-the-Tournament in Deodhar Trophy

Riyan Parag has already endured a few challenging phases in his young career. The latest was during this year's Indian Premier League (IPL). Part of the Rajasthan Royals set-up since 2019, he scored just 78 runs in seven games at a strike rate below 120.

In the recently-concluded Deodhar Trophy, where Riyan Parag's team East Zone finished runners-up, he was adjudged the Player-of-the-Tournament PREMIUM
In the recently-concluded Deodhar Trophy, where Riyan Parag's team East Zone finished runners-up, he was adjudged the Player-of-the-Tournament

It was tough, but the 21-year-old seems to have bounced back and let his performances do the talking. In the recently-concluded Deodhar Trophy in Puducherry, where his team East Zone finished runners-up, he was adjudged the Player-of-the-Tournament on the back of a stellar run. He hit two centuries, and 95 in the final, to finish as the highest-run getter of the tournament. With the ball, he picked 11 wickets in five games with his multifaceted spin bowling.

It's an impressive turnaround, but Parag chooses to not make much of the success, just like how he dealt with the setbacks a couple of months ago,

“You’ve got to accept them first (the setbacks),” said the youngster. “I remember Rahul (Dravid) sir telling me a long time ago that you’re going to fail 75% of the time when you’re playing cricket. So, you’ve got to accept that you’re going to succeed only 20-30% of the time. For me, it’s just about staying true to my process and remaining clear in the head.”

The all-rounder from Assam, who was a part of the India A squad at the ACC Emerging Teams Cup last month, didn’t panic after his slump in this year's IPL. Believing in his methods, he says, has always worked for him eventually.

“I’ve never been a cricket geek, so I’ve never really done much about my technique,” said Parag. “It’s always about the mindset and keeping myself in control. It’s important to not change too many things when it’s not going your way, maybe I made that mistake this year. I tried to change too many things after the first two-three games, maybe that was my fault. I’ve got to stick with the ways that have been working for me, rather than looking for other options. Setbacks are a big part of the game and you’re going to face them more often than you want to. But you’re sorted if you don’t think about them too much.”

Parag hit more sixes (21) than fours (19) in the Deodhar Trophy, taking a liking to the leg side in particular. With a high back-lift and a quick swing, he’s always been a hard ball-striker, but what stood out this time was his calmness under pressure and shot selection. He was quick to latch on to anything short and showed how proficient he is at playing the pull shot.

“More than the preparation, it’s about you believing in what you can deliver and what your game plan is,” said Parag. “Most of the time what happens is we get so caught up in the situation in the middle, we end up not playing our natural game and back our strengths. So, I think it’s just about trusting that more than anything. I know what works for me and if I can somehow blend that with the match situation, I think that’s always the better combination.”

Parag has rarely batted in the top order in IPL. He has an average of 16.22 after 54 games, but he accepts that the pressure of having to hit from ball one is unlike any other.

“Batting lower down the order is a whole different ball game for sure,” he said. “I can’t explain it further. Someone who knows the game and is a natural cricket enthusiast will know how hard it is to bat lower and finish an innings. It’s a tough job, the toughest in the T20 game.”

India are going through a transition at the senior level, with plenty of new names coming up in white-ball cricket. Parag is sure he’ll make it to the top one day, but he says he’s in no rush.

“To be honest, I don’t think much about the competition,” he said. “I know there’s a plan for everyone. I know I’m going to play for the country, there’s no doubt about it in my mind. So, I just try to enjoy my cricket, what has to happen will happen and I don’t need to go searching for anything. Regardless of whether I make it or not, I’ll remain satisfied and not stress out.”

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