‘He reminds me of Suryakumar’, Shane Bond praises Riyan

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Rajasthan Royals assistant coach Shane Bond has described the in-form Riyan Parag as a player of “extreme talent”, likening him to a young Suryakumar Yadav.

The 22-year-old Parag has brought his rich form in domestic cricket into the IPL, striking two high quality fifties to help Rajasthan notch up three wins in three so far, the latest being against Mumbai Indians on Monday night.”He sort of reminds me a little bit of Surya [Suryakumar], who came to Mumbai a few years ago,” Bond, who is also RR’s bowling coach, said at the post-match press conference. “He looks like that – he has got extreme talent. He has just matured as a cricketer, even though he is only 22.”

Bond shifted to Royals’ staff this year, after a nine-year stint with Mumbai. He said Royals had set up their line-up this year to get more out of Parag. “He has had an outstanding domestic season, obviously, batting up the order. The trade we made with Devdutt [Padikkal], bringing Avesh [Khan] in, that was to put Riyan up into a position which was probably better suited.”

Bond said it was unfair to judge Parag on previous seasons, when he had to play the role of finisher at such a young age. “Riyan started so young, you forget that he was 17 or something, playing in one of the toughest spots in a batting line-up: No. 6. You look at the characters who finish games around the IPL, they are generally pretty experienced guys. The Tim Davids, the David Millers… these are high-quality players who play international cricket. Riyan had been tasked with that for a number of years. He is still a very young man, but he has got this wealth of experience behind him now.

“We are getting the best of him. The investment that RR have made of him, it’s starting to reap the rewards. It is pretty exciting what he could offer for the rest of the season for us.”

Riyan Parag’s promotion to No. 4 is paying dividends for Rajasthan Royals. It’s a position familiar to 22-year-old Parag, who topped the run-scoring charts – with 510 runs at an average of 85 and strike rate of 182.79 – in the latest edition of the Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy. He has carried that form into IPL 2024.

Coming into the game against Mumbai Indians on Monday on the back of a 29-ball 43 and an unbeaten 45-ball 84, Parag, with Royals in just a bit of trouble at 42 for 2 chasing 126, kept his calm and took them over the line with an unbeaten 39-ball 54. With 181 runs in three innings, he also became the joint-highest run-getter in IPL 2024 along with Virat Kohli, but ahead on the list because of a superior strike rate.

“When I play domestically, this is the exact type of situation I go in to bat,” Parag told after the game. “When Jos [Buttler] bhai got out and Ash [R Ashwin] bhai got out a little after, I was like ‘this is what I do, this is what I’ve been doing for the last six months playing domestic cricket’. So it was pretty simple to calculate everything.”

Royals had restricted Mumbai Indians to 125 for 9 but were rocked early by Kwena Maphaka and Akash Madhwal. But Parag carried on unfazed and stitched a 40-run stand with Ashwin to calm down the camp.

Parag had been used primarily as a finisher by Royals in the past, and his returns had been patchy.

“I have had three to four years of not performing at all,” Parag said. “And you really go back to your hotel room and you think… that when you know you can do something and the performances are not coming, you get back to the drawing [board]. I tried finding what was wrong, and I figured out that I was not practicing at this level enough.

“So I went back after the [last] season and practised very hard, and I think that’s showing now. I’ve practiced [against] these types of quick balls and these kinds of scenarios a lot, hence the performances.”

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