Riyan Parag and Rajasthan Royals have made an outstanding start to their Indian Premier League 2024 campaign. 

While the Royals are second in the IPL 2024 standings with four points from two wins, Riyan, having scored 127 runs, is second on the list of top run-getters after two matches.

Riyan notched his career-best IPL score of 84* off just 45 balls to power the Royals’ to a 12-run win over Delhi Capitals in their second match at the Sawai Mansingh Stadium in Jaipur on Thursday.

He walked into the crease with the Royals in a spot of bother at 30/2 in the sixth over. The 22-year-old Riyan took his time to settle down but once set, he found gaps at will and frequently scored boundaries to up the scoring rate.

Riyan brought up his fifty off 34 balls and scored 25 runs off Capitals’ pacer Anrich Nortje’s final over to take the Royals to an imposing 185/5. His knock included seven boundaries and six sixes and took the match beyond the reach of Delhi Capitals.

Though not fully fit and on medication, Riyan showed courage and played a match-winning knock. “I have worked very hard, the last three days I was in bed, I was on painkillers, I just got up today and I am very happy,” he said.

Journey so far

Riyan Parag’s journey through the Indian Premier League has had its ups and downs. He was signed by Rajasthan Royals before IPL 2019 at his base price of INR 20 lakhs.

At 17, Riyan had a promising start with the Royals scoring 160 runs in five innings at an average of 32.00 and a strike rate of 126.98. He also became the youngest player in the IPL to score a half-century in 2019.

But what turned out in the next four years came as a surprise especially keeping in mind the amount of talent young he possessed. Riyan managed a mere 440 runs from 39 appearances to the crease at an average of 13.75 including just one fifty-plus score.

His self-confidence and belief looked brash and arrogant to the outside world. He was subject to a lot of trolls and abuse on social media. All through this, Rajasthan Royals always believed in Riyan’s talent and kept faith in him as they bought him back for a whopping INR 3.80 crores at the mega auction before IPL 2022.

Preparation for IPL 2024

Riyan Parag worked extremely hard during the off-season to give himself the best preparation for the domestic season with Assam and the IPL. The results were quite immediate.

Batting at number four for his state, Riyan racked up 510 runs from 10 matches at an average of 85.00 and a punishing strike rate of 182.79 in the Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy, the premier domestic T20 tournament in India. He accumulated seven fifty-plus scores to take Assam to the semi-finals of the tournament and finished as the top run-getter.

Riyan looked in imperious form in the Ranji Trophy too scoring 378 runs from six innings with two centuries at an average of 75.60. He announced his arrival on the big stage yet again with his performances with Assam in the domestic scene.

The Royal backup

Rajasthan Royals were quick to put their weight behind Riyan and promoted him up the batting order. Skipper Sanju Samson and later Head Coach and Director of Cricket at Rajasthan Royals Kumar Sangakkara announced that Riyan Parag will bat at number four in the IPL 2024.

This was a perfect way of acknowledging the work put in by the promising youngster. Both Samson and Sangakkara echoed that Riyan has evolved into a mature cricketer and anything below number four would be a grave injustice to his talent.

“It is very difficult for someone like Riyan, who has an overall game, just to always get the toughest parts of the game where he has to come in and up the run rate,” Sangakkara said. “We all felt that he had a much more important role that he could play for us,” he added.

"Riyan Parag has been a big name in the last few years. Wherever I go, people ask me about him. There is something very special he can give to Indian cricket” said Samson.

Repaying the faith

Riyan has come good in the first two matches of IPL 2024 to repose the faith that the Royals team management has shown in him. In the season-opener against Lucknow Super Giants, he walked in at 49/2 to score a brisk 43 off 29 balls and added 93 runs for the third wicket with skipper Sanju Samson to help Rajasthan Royals to a 20-run victory.

Riyan went a step further in the Royals’ second match against Delhi Capitals, single-handedly taking them to a strong first innings total, after the top-order collapsed. It was a high-quality batting display to which even the lightning-quick Nortje did not have answers.

Suryakumar Yadav could not help but take notice of the onslaught. He was quick to point out the change he noted in Riyan at the National Cricket Academy, Bangalore, a few days back.

“Met a guy at NCA few weeks ago. He came with a slight niggle. Completely focused on his recovery and with great discipline working on his skills. And I was not wrong to tell that to one of the coaches there ‘He is a changed guy’ RIYAN PARAG 2.0. Watch out” said Suryakumar Yadav on his X (formerly Twitter) handle.

Riyan Parag has come full circle travelling the ups and downs of the game. And at 22, he is showing great maturity and mental toughness to sail through any hard voyage. He has responded to all the trolls and abuses in the best possible way.

Dad, there is expectation, people want me to succeed, and that’s why I am at the receiving end. The day I will start scoring consistently, these trolls will sing my name” Riyan had told his father before the IPL 2024 season opener against Lucknow Super Giants.

Riyan’s match-winning knock against Delhi Capitals was a shot in the arm to rebuild his cricketing journey which was headlined only by potential till now. He was a bit emotional after his exploits with the bat, as he acknowledged the effort he has put in to reach here.

“It’s the fruit of a lot of practice. I’m a little emotional. I’m witnessing the result of my hard worksaid Riyan during the innings break.