"You do you, who cares what other people think" - Riyan Parag's success mantra is all about confidence in his abilities and ignoring the chatter

Riyan Parag, Rajasthan Royals cricketer and a Red Bull athlete (Image: Team RB)
Riyan Parag, Rajasthan Royals cricketer and a Red Bull athlete (Image: Team RB)

The 17th edition of the Indian Premier League concluded with Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR) being crowned the champions. While it was a season to remember for them, the other three teams that made it to the top four missed striking the right chord.

Two playoffs in three editions; was this a season to remember for Rajasthan Royals? RR cricketer Riyan Parag feels there was a piece missing in the puzzle. While skipper Sanju Samson was all praises for his team members, he had a special mention for Riyan Parag. The Assam cricketer received heaps of praise not only from his captain but also from pundits and experts around the world.

Having been with the franchise for six years, Parag's IPL 2024 was one of his finest seasons, but he himself doesn’t think so. Fueled with grit and determination every time he walks out to bat for his side, the 22-year-old's sole aim is to get his side over the line; a victorious outing is all that matters to him.

Even after a noteworthy IPL campaign the youngster feels there were a few things that went missing, and he looks forward to plugging the gaps in the forthcoming editions of the cash-rich event. Taking the team to victory holds paramount importance for him.

Riyan Parag finished as the third-highest run-getter in IPL 2024, having accumulated 573 runs in 14 innings of the 15 matches that he played. Seeing him take on some of the finest bowlers in the sport was proof of his hard work and dedication. Maintaining an average of 52.09 and striking at 149.22 is surely not easy.

Following in Virat Kohli’s footsteps, the young lad was a fierce competitor in the Orange Cap race too, and even took the top spot from the former in the initial stages of the tournament. That, without a doubt, is a notable sign of growth in Parag’s career.

In an exclusive interview with Sportskeeda, on the sidelines of Red Bull’s college cricket tournament in association with Rajasthan Royals - the Red Bull Campus Cricket, Riyan Parag spoke about his dream of making it to the Indian team. He exuded confidence in himself, saying he sees himself donning the Indian colors sooner or later.

Parag looks to learn as much as he can from domestic cricket as well as the IPL, which provides him a platform to showcase his best self. While domestic cricket is important to him, Parag ranked Test cricket the highest in his priority list, and mentioned that his focus for the upcoming season will be on the Ranji Trophy.

Excerpts from Riyan Parag's exclusive interview with Sportskeeda

Riyan Parag from a recent photoshoot (Image: Team Red Bull)
Riyan Parag from a recent photoshoot (Image: Team Red Bull)

Q. Let’s start with something about your IPL campaign. Many have been praising your performances this season. How satisfied are you with your campaign?

Not really, to be honest. I think I had a good season, I could have won more games. I left a few games very short, so yeah I think I’ve got a lot to improve upon. Even the last game that we lost, I should have finished that. I should have at least taken the team closer to victory, but yeah not really satisfied but happy.

Q. Despite your stellar campaign, the team couldn’t cross the crucial hurdle in the Playoffs. How do you assess the team’s outing this season?

I think it’s always a team’s performance. It’s a team sport right, regardless of me getting however many runs I’ve gotten, or regardless of Sanju (Samson) bhaiya getting however many runs he has gotten. I think if it doesn’t actually benefit the team, it’s useless runs. So whatever runs I’ve gotten when we lost the game doesn’t actually matter. So, I feel we should be proud. Number 3, in probably the biggest T20 league in the world, I think that’s a really good tournament.

Q. You had a brilliant domestic season too. Do you think there’s any area where you could improve ahead of the next domestic season?

Unfortunately, I couldn’t play the longer format. I got injured after four games so that’s something I’m really looking forward to next year. T20 has been my forte and it’s a shorter game, one-dayers I spent, I’ve tried to crack it up and been successful for a fair bit. But I think Ranji Trophy, the four-day game, is what my focus is going to be next year. Because the main goal always is to play in the Test team right, Test cricket. So I think the Ranji Trophy is the first step.

Q. Do you credit your personal growth in IPL 2024 to your success in the domestic arena?

Yes, that and a lot of practice. Because domestic gives you that exposure. People say I’ve done well because I’ve got the opportunity at No. 4 but then the thing is I’ve played at No. 4 for the last three years now for Assam, my domestic side. So that gives you a lot of exposure, that gives you a lot of experience, how to deal with certain situations which people are not accustomed to and now when you do it in the IPL, it becomes a whole big thing. But then once you play domestic and you do that on a regular basis, I think that’s a normality for me.

Q. What’s Riyan Parag’s mantra to overcome failure and embrace the path of success?

You do you, who cares what other people think? That’s it.

Q. You’ve been pretty vocal on Twitter about your player picks. Who according to you is the current GOAT, Indian or International or one of both?

Virat Kohli for sure but then that’s a very obvious answer. Someone else, I’d say…. The GOAT… I think Rashid Khan. He’s been very consistent for the last, I don’t even remember how many years. I think he’s on that track for sure. An Indian for GOAT pick, aside from Kohli, none, not really.

Q. Your IPL 2024 campaign turned heads, and you were also in contention for the Orange Cap alongside your idol Virat Kohli at one point. Do you think an India call-up is on the cards post the T20 World Cup?

See the thing is I know I’m gonna play for India. There was a Red Bull interview 3 years back and I said that, and back then I was nowhere near the Indian squad. Now at least people are saying he should be in the Indian team. I said it back then, and I still say it, regardless of how long it takes, whether it’s the next tour in July, whether it’s six months, whether it’s a year, I’m going to play for India, that’s my belief. That’s not me being arrogant at all. I don’t really care when I’m going to play, because I know I’m gonna play. So, whenever it comes, I’m ready for it.

Q. Your top 4 picks for the T20 World Cup?

I’m actually not going to watch the World Cup. I’m done with cricket for now. I’ve played 70 days of cricket, then domestic was there. So I’m just going to chill, I’m not going to watch the World Cup. Whoever wins the final, good for them. But then yeah, I’m not watching the World Cup.

Q. You played a key role in the Eliminator clash against RCB, and Ravi Ashwin, a veteran on the side, called you a "top-class batter." Anything to say about that?

Firstly, thanks to Ash bhai because he’s seen me from close quarters, but then that’s what I’ve built. I’ve built a shield around me, like no matter who says what. Because now everyone’s saying good things, for the last three years I’ve been bashed on social media or by commentators, or by ex-cricketers… etcetera-etcetera.

So once you’ve been through that, whatever they’re saying now, doesn’t really matter at all. Everyone’s praising me, all the ex-cricketers, all the former internationals, but for me, that’s just white noise. So I don’t really care about who’s saying what.

Q. The praise after a successful outing on the field would surely please you, but how do you take on the criticism after a bad day?

They always say maturity comes with age, I say maturity comes with pain. I’ve suffered a lot for the last, those two-three years. That’s pain for me. And I’ve learned what matters to me and what doesn’t. And what matters to me is I’ve got those 5-6 close people in my life. Whatever they say matters to me, whatever is coming from outside that circle, I don’t think it matters, yeah.

Q. RR vs PBKS is now being dubbed as El Clasico 2.0, after MI vs CSK. The two teams have been part of several thrilling encounters already. What’s your take on that?

For players, it’s the same. It’s the fans who create all this hype like RCB is playing CSK, this team is playing that team, it’s all fans. It goes around outside and stays around outside, we don’t really bother about who we are playing. We treat everyone the same, we treat and respect everyone as a threat to losing games to. So I think we don’t really focus on all of that.

Q. Which player, according to you, has the best vibe in the dressing room? Player or member of the staff.

Best vibe, Me (laughs). Best vibe!

Q. With whom do you share the best bond in the RR camp?

Dhruv Jurel!

Q. You’ve been with RR for a good amount of time now. How do you think the team’s collaboration with RB through the RBCC tournament is helpful for up-and-coming cricketers?

Six years, yeah. I think tournaments like these are very helpful for the younger generations, to be honest. Because I never personally got to play these tournaments. Especially coming from Assam, we don’t really have infrastructure like this, neither do we have grounds nor do we have the quality of bowlers or nor do we have balls, the cricket balls, to play with.

Now that these youngsters are getting this opportunity, that’s at par with the domestic level that we play in India. So having this experience, then going to domestic cricket, then going to the IPL, they’re now familiar with how it actually is being played. So now this is going to be a very big help for everyone participating.

Q. As we know, RR scouts players from the tournament who get a chance to be a part of RR’s camp. One piece of advice that you have for those who miss out on the opportunity?

I feel they always tell players that he’s confident, he’s matured, he’s this he’s that, and I just want to tell the youngsters that only - it doesn’t come with playing a lot of games. Experience is one thing, sure, but that comes with a lot of practice. Once you practice everything, it’s like an exam. If you’ve read and studied everything, then the exam is easy and if you have not, the exam’s hard. It’s as same as cricket.

If you spend enough time in the nets, if you spend enough time when no one is watching you, and you’ve actually practiced your heart out, with all the shots and all the balls that you need to execute in a game, you’ll be fine. You’ll be mature, you’ll be confident, you’ll be everything you want to do. So, I feel it’s about practicing hard.

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