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Confidence and mental strength: two keys to Riyan Parag’s success

Last updated on 01 Jul 2024 | 05:49 AM
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Confidence and mental strength: two keys to Riyan Parag’s success

Riyan Parag also opened up on the incessant trolling and what changes he made to ensure they didn’t hurt him too much

Polarising opinions aren't new in a country of 1.4 billion people. And, for Riyan Parag, all of those opinions came hard at him at 22. He’s seen the best and the worst of the cricketing world, and the 2024 edition of the Indian Premier League has breathed new life into his career. 

The younger finished the 2024 season with 573 runs, almost as many as he had got in the five seasons prior to that. One of the major reasons behind the staggering numbers is a new role in the Rajasthan Royals setup, where he now walks out to bat at No.4 and not don the finisher role anymore. 

Also Read: Riyan Parag is ready — but is the rest of the world?

But most of Parag’s success comes from his confidence, something that has driven him to huge success over the last two years, both at an IPL level and domestically, where he has been the mainstay of the Assam team. 

“Whatever I've done in my career till now, it's down to confidence and mental strength. I'm not the best, technically,” Parag opened up in an exclusive chat with ESPNCricinfo. 

“My last domestic season was superb. I got runs in Deodhar Trophy, topped charts in Syed Mushtaq Ali. I was having a good Ranji season and then I got injured in the fourth game, two months before the IPL. I didn't even touch a bat for a month. But the fact that I was able to go into the IPL with confidence is because of the preparation and the confidence of runs,” he added. 

None of that, however, affected Parag at the IPL, where he scored an 84 off 45 balls against Delhi Capitals’ bowling attack, which included South African pacer Anrich Nortje. In the aftermath of that clash, Parag revealed how he wasn’t fully fit before the clash but played through the season with enormous confidence and success. 

“Then when the season started, just before our second game, I was sick. I couldn't move out of bed. But I've always been very strong mentally, and I didn't want to let go of a golden chance [of getting to bat at No. 4] so easily. That innings against Delhi Capitals [Parag made an unbeaten 84 off 45 balls] was some sort of a momentum builder for me. A lot of people told me after that: don't get complacent, don't get satisfied,” he added. 

“And I was thinking to myself: How am I going to get complacent? How am I going to get satisfied when I've had three years of nothing except abuse and negative energy? So this year I was going to play regardless of anything. I've had a fracture, I had a ligament injury, but I just played through because I was not going to leave it.”

After the conclusion of the 2023 IPL season, Parag worked hard at the Rajasthan Royals Academy in Talegaon, closely with Zubin Bharucha, which helped him improve in all facets of the game. 

“Just going out of my comfort zone was the first step. I went to the Rajasthan Royals Academy immediately after the [2023] IPL. It's hot, 45 degrees or something, and I'd do three sessions a day, every day, for a month. It takes a lot of dedication to just go there, because it's a tough place, tough conditions, but then you've just got to get your work done, right? That has to come from within. That's what helped me, because I wanted to improve,” he said.  

“I wanted to know more about my game, I wanted to plan different scenarios. Because I've been lost inside those 22 yards way too many times. I've been lost for options for what I needed to do in certain situations. I think once you go through all those phases, you understand that you need to have at least two to three options for every single ball. And for that, you need to practise. Those practices take a lot of time, but eventually, when you do it for a consistent period, I think it works out pretty well.”

While he definitely had to work his way out of pain, considering all the venom that was spewed towards his direction, he also transformed himself mentally. That transformation has really set him apart at the recently concluded IPL, where he seemed unperturbed by both success and failure. 

“Earlier I wanted to be my absolute true self. That's how I portrayed myself. But because I got so many negative responses from that, because I was not performing... I understood that, okay, I don't have to do that. As the years have gone by, I've refrained a bit. Now I'm just so into my game and into what's happening on that given day. I can't really express myself even if I want to. I don't look back to the crowds even if they are all rooting for me. I'm looking at the bowler, the captain, I'm looking to think about what I would do if I was captain. The way I view a game is different now,” he concluded.

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