Kolkata: Riyan Parag, the young and funloving allrounder of IPL franchise Rajasthan Royals, feels his team is in with a chance of making the play-offs in the IPL 2021 when it resumes in the UAE from September 19.
Speaking of his team’s ambitions for the resumption of IPL next month, Parag said: “I think we have a really good shot at making it to the play-offs. We’re placed fifth on the table and we’ve got seven more matches to play. Plus, we know the conditions in the UAE really well from last season.”
The Royals, who finished at the bottom of the heap last season, made a more assured start this year in India with Kumar Sangakkara as their Director of Cricket Operations till the league had to be suspended in early May with rising cases of COVID-19.
“I believe we can improve a lot in various departments and with a good team balance and combination on and off the field, I think we’ll have a really good shot of qualifying for the play-offs first and then of course, winning the title,” the Under-19 World Cup winner told the Royals.
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A permanent fixture in the Royals camp for sometime now, the Assam youngster will have to take more responsibilities upon himself as two of their star overseas recruits - Ben Stokes and Jofra Archer will not be available for the UAE leg. Stokes has taken an indefinite break citing mental fatigue while Archer has been ruled out of the season with a recurrence of his elbow injury.
Parag is up for the challenge as he sees preparing himself to “consistently hit sixes” as his main objective during the off-season. “I have worked on my hitting a lot and want to ensure that I’m more consistent with my shape and form whenever I’m aiming to hit long. The other aspect of my game is to bowl in tough scenarios, and I’ve tried to make sure that I’m practising new variations that I want to be consistent with and be able to bowl them under pressure, and also perfect the variations that I had before,” he said.
The heavy monsoon in Guwahati had been often a deterrent for Parag for outdoor practice, but he has had a grind with the Royals to make up for it in Nagpur. “It has been hard to practise as the monsoon season is on and we’ve been getting a fair amount of rain, but I think the exposure I’ve received during my time at the Royals’ training facility in Nagpur has really helped. I had the opportunity to work on all three facets of my game and I’m really excited to keep building on that,” added the right-handed batsman.
Another side to Parag’s game is his top-class fitness levels, and the youngster wants to ensure he’s in great shape for the IPL. “I’m always striving to be fitter than what I was. Hence the time I spent in Nagpur really helped - we trained under the sun and it was really intense and nice. And even when I’m back home, I don’t miss a day of training. I make sure to cover everything cricket related, and regularly have some extra sessions of sprints, agility, cross-fit, strength and weightlifting.”
“At the end of the day, I’m prepared to put in a lot of work to ensure my fitness levels are high which I believe will help me field, bat and bowl better as well and can lead to me eventually becoming an international player for India,” he added.