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Riyan Parag – ‘I’m going to play for India. I don’t really care when’

Riyan Parag is confident of representing India at some point in the future. The 22-year-old is coming off a superb season with Rajasthan Royals in IPL 2024, where he struck 573 runs at an average of 52.09 and a strike-rate of 149.21.

“At some point, you’ll have to take me, right? So that is my belief, I’m going to play for India,” Parag was quoted as saying by PTI. “I don’t really care when. [Even] when I was not scoring runs – I said this in an [earlier] interview as well that I am going to play for India.

“That is me believing in myself. That is not me being arrogant. That is what my plan was with my dad [former Railways and Assam player Parag Das], when I started playing cricket when I was like 10-years old. We were going to play for India regardless of anything.”

India will travel to Zimbabwe after their T20 World Cup campaign to play five T20Is, and Parag could be among the players to find a place in the side. His focus, currently, is on getting there.

“Whether it’s the next tour, whether it’s a tour in six months, whether it’s a tour in one year… I don’t really put my thought behind when I should play,” Parag said. “That is the selector’s job, that is other people’s job.”

Parag came into this IPL after failing to reach 200 runs in any of the five previous seasons. But his promotion from the lower-middle order to No.4, the spot in which he bats for his state, Assam, provided the point of familiarity from where he could lift off.

“I’m still dealing with it. I got back home and I was super sad. The night after the game, it didn’t really sink in. But then the day after the match and before the final, it was tough.”

Parag on RR’s loss in the Eliminator

“What you saw this year in the IPL is how I play domestic cricket,” Parag said. “I take the onus up to myself, I take the expectations, I take the burden upon myself to deliver and that is why I play the best.

“I was not doing that in the IPL. I was taking way too much pressure, keeping my expectations way too high and not doing the basic things right. That is what I figured I had to do this year; of playing at my favourite position as well, No 4. I was like, okay, ‘I do this at domestic cricket, this is the same thing I’m going to do in IPL and let’s see how it goes’. It worked out perfectly.

“I had a lot of rough seasons, more than nice ones and I feel having that constant belief in yourself, that you actually belong in this level, that you can actually do things that you [had] dreamt of, has been a constant and that will stay throughout.”

RR won eight out of their first nine games this season but then lost five games in a row and finished their campaign with a loss against Sunrisers Hyderabad in the Eliminator, one that Parag acknowledges was disappointing.

“I’m still dealing with it. I got back home and I was super sad,” he said. “The night after the game, it didn’t really sink in. But then the day after the match and before the final, it was tough.

“It’s tough, but then that’s how cricket goes. There are world-class sides that are playing the tournament, world-class players that are playing the tournament [and you can’t always win].”

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