IPL 2024: 'Focused on the ball, believed in my practice', says Parag on match-winning 84

It was the Riyan Parag show which enthralled everyone in Jaipur, as the all-rounder continued his recent good run by hitting an unbeaten 84 off just 45 balls

Jaipur, March 29 (IANS) It was the Riyan Parag show which enthralled everyone in Jaipur, as the all-rounder continued his recent good run by hitting an unbeaten 84 off just 45 balls to play a pivotal role in Rajasthan Royals beating Delhi Capitals by 12 runs in Thursday’s match of IPL 2024.

On a pitch which initially aided seam movement at the Sawai Mansingh Stadium, Parag was slow to begin, making just 26 runs off the first 26 balls he faced. But he flicked a switch post Ravichandran Ashwin’s cameo of 29 to make 58 runs in just his next 19 balls, including getting his fifty in 34 balls.

Parag hit seven fours and six sixes, connecting very well with the deliveries to send them over the boundary ropes constantly, including smashing Anrich Nortje for 25 runs in the final over, laced with three fours and two sixes, to make his best-ever IPL score in a brilliant match-winning effort.

Parag put down his unbeaten 84 to being focused on one ball at a time and believing in his practice, which in turn helped him execute his plans very well after constant practising under Zubin Bharucha, RR’s Director of High Performance. “When I was practicing in Nagpur with Zubin sir, we faced sidearm bowlers who bowled at over 150km/hr daily.

“Practicing with them from 20 yards instead of 22 yards, pulling the ball, and digging out yorkers was routine. Playing there for four to five hours for five to six days, I think I developed muscle memory. In the match, it didn’t feel like Anrich Nortje or Khaleel Ahmed is bowling. I focused on the ball, believed in my practice, and that helped my execution,” he said to digital broadcasters JioCinema.

In the run-up to the match against DC, after making a vital 43 against Lucknow Super Giants, Parag was down with a bout of flu, and revealed after the game ended that he took a lot of painkillers to be fit enough to play for RR on Thursday.

In the 2023-24 Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy, Parag emerged as the leading run-getter with 510 runs in ten innings at an average of 85 and strike rate of nearly 183, including hitting seven consecutive half-centuries for his state team Assam.

He also felt being given the number four slot has also worked well in his favour, something which he came to know about during this year’s Ranji Trophy season. “During the Ranji Trophy, I had found out from the leadership group that Devdutt Padikkal would be traded for Avesh Khan and that I would be batting at No. 4. I enjoy it. As today’s situation played out, it didn’t feel unfamiliar to me.

“When I play for Assam, I face similar situations. I can judge bowlers better, where to hit the ball, and how hard to hit the ball, so that’s helped me a lot. My preparation was good and I had minimal pressure on me. If I could play so well in domestic cricket, why couldn’t I do the same here? I went to Nagpur, worked with Zubin sir, practiced a lot, and now I am seeing the results. So I am very happy.”

Meanwhile, former India wicketkeeper-batter Parthiv Patel who is an IPL expert with the digital broadcasters, lauded Ashwin for his cameo which took the pressure off Parag and gave him the license to break free later on.

“He started hitting sixes towards the end of his innings. Early on, he scored 24 runs off 24 deliveries. I think it was important that he played the game according to the situation and he did it well. Once he was settled, we saw big shots from his bat. I have to commend Ashwin for taking some of the pressure off which allowed Parag to play a long innings.

“The most important thing is that after you’ve scored so many runs in domestic cricket, you get the belief that, ‘If I take my time, no matter who the bowler is, I can score runs’. Even if it is someone like Nortje bowling in excess of 150 km/h.

“This is because you have the power and we’ve seen that in domestic cricket. It was good to see him deliver on the big stage. He has a lot of promise, Rajasthan Royals also believed in him, and today, he played an excellent innings.”

With two out of two wins at its home venue, Rajasthan Royals will now travel to Mumbai to take on the Mumbai Indians in their first away match of the ongoing season at the Wankhede Stadium on April 1.

–IANS

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