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"I respect, but I don't care…" Riyan Parag on receiving praise from senior cricketers like Ravi Ashwin | Exclusive

Published at :May 31, 2024 at 6:29 PM
Modified at :May 31, 2024 at 6:29 PM
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Rutvij Joshi


Riyan Parag scored 573 runs in 16 games for Rajasthan Royals in IPL 2024.

Sport is a great leveler. At one moment you are at the tip of the ocean and at another you are on top of the Himalayas. For Riyan Parag, the 2024 edition of the Indian Premier League (IPL) was nothing short of impressive. The ‘Axom’ captain put all his past horrors behind to become one of the mainstays for Rajasthan Royals (RR).

The youngster was the highest run-scorer for his franchise with 573 runs in 16 games, showcasing his potential and helping RR qualify for the playoffs. Khel Now had the opportunity to interview Riyan Parag, where he opened up about his successful season with the double R’s.

Parag also spoke about his cricket journey, struggles, national team ambitions and the importance of both his athlete parents in shaping his sporting career. Here are the excerpts from the exclusive conversation:

Q1: What technical and mental changes did you make this season in the build-up to the domestic calendar and obviously the IPL?

A: I think that’s been the key. There have been no changes. I’ve just been doing what I’ve been doing for the last two years. I’ve just tried to be more consistent with it. Before, maybe if I didn’t perform well in some games, I’d just not stick to the basics and not follow the process. This year, the difference was sticking to the process and just doing small things.

Q2: What were your conversations with Kumar Sangakara and Sanju Samson about the move to No.4 and what was the message and direction from them?

A: I think it was pretty easy to move because I have been playing No. 4 for domestic for the last three years now and it was due in the IPL. We were in chat since last year but then this year we just made it happen and it clicked.

Q3: You seem to have worked on your fitness and running between the wickets from the previous seasons. Tell us more about what changed in your fitness?

A: I have always been quick, I have always been in good shape. Now, I have gotten runs in the IPL, that’s why all these things are coming up. So, I don’t think I have changed that much.

Q4: Your thoughts on the Impact Player rule. Do you think it gives more leverage to the batting side? What is your opinion? 

A: Bowlers still have six balls to bowl, the batter can just make one mistake. So, I think it’s still a bowler’s game.

Riyan Parag Rajasthan Royals IPL 2024
Riyan Parag. (Photo by Vishal Bhatnagar/NurPhoto via Getty Images)

Q5: Ravi Ashwin, Suryakumar Yadav and a lot of senior players have spoken very highly of your performances. How do you see this praise?

A: I respect what was said by everyone, especially the senior cricketers in our country, commentators and so on. I respect everyone’s opinions, but I really don’t care about it. I’ve had a lot of negative stuff said to me in the last 2-3 years. I took some of that, but it didn’t really turn out well for me and I’ve learned in the last year, maybe that’s the change or that’s the switch that I’ve had. This year I’ve stopped listening to other people.

Q6: Your father himself was a former First-Class cricketer, your mother was a swimmer, she’s represented India as well. You also started cricket at a very young age. So, how has that helped you growing up as a sportsperson?

A: I think it gives you a better understanding right from the start. Because that’s the key part, right? As a young cricketer starts, you need to manage. That’s what I got from that and now how to handle cricket as well as life outside cricket. So, that was the differentiator and a blessing having those two aspects.

Q7: One thing a lot of cricketers and sports people in this day and age have to bear is the criticism on social media. How do you handle criticism whether it be from fans, former cricketers, pundits?

A: I think it matters down to what opinions matter to me. I have 5-6 close people in my entire life. Those people’s opinions affect me and what they say does really change and affect the way I perceive life. So, I think anything other than those five people I don’t really think about. Those people you love, people you know who will never criticize you, will always give you positive reinforcement to how you can improve whatever you do. I think everything other than those six people I don’t really care.

Q8: Amongst all the notable foreign and Indian players that you’ve played with, who’s had the most significant influence on your game so far? 

A: Ben Stokes. Ben Stokes has had a lot of influence on my game, especially outside the game, how to handle with all of this. Yes, he’s been through a lot. Looking at him, learning from him, staying with him for 2-3 years, I think I’ve learned a lot.

Q9:  There’s also a lot of talk now, especially after this season, about your potential call-up to the Indian national team. How do you take that mentally?

A: Last year people were telling me I wasn’t even fit to play the IPL. Now, they want me to play in the Indian team. So, that says a lot about what other people think and how important other people’s advice and opinions are.

I think I’ve answered your question right there and then, that these people who say stuff doesn’t really matter. I know I’m going to play for the country one day or another. Whether it’s the next series, whether it’s the series in six months, whether it’s the series in one year. I’m not saying this being very arrogant, but this is me believing in myself and what I can do in the game. 

Q10: Just a bit outside cricket, what is your passion, what are your hobbies, what do you like watching or playing? 

A: I like traveling, I like gaming a lot. So yes, I don’t really get much time to do that but then whenever I do, I like to do gaming.

Q11: Can you tell us a bit more about your gaming hobby as well?

A: I play FPS games, Valorant, Counter Strike, all of those things. I don’t get much time to do it, but when I do get time I will be around playing games. 

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