IPL 2024: “Much more important role to play at No.4 for Riyan Parag” says Rajasthan Royals coach Sangakkara

The sterling international success of Yashasvi Jaiswal and more recently Dhruv Jurel has fuelled Riyan Parag’s hunger to excel, feels Rajasthan Royals head coach Kumar Sangakkara, who has elevated the Assam cricketer to the crucial number four spot this season.

Royals have invested heavily in the 22 year-old, who first played for the franchise back in 2019.

After performing the finisher’s role for multiple seasons, Parag has been promoted higher up the order considering his improved work ethic and performances in domestic cricket. The start at the new number was promising as he smashed 43 off 29 balls in Royals’ win over LSG here on March 24.

Ahead of its second game at home, Sangakkara explained the rationale behind the decision to promote Parag in the batting order. “We looked at how he performed over the years. It is a difficult thing for someone like Riyan who has an overall game to only get the toughest parts of the game, where he has to come in and up the run rate at the death,” said the former Sri Lankan cricketer on Wednesday.

“We all felt he has a much more important role to play for us. The hardwork he has done and runs he has scored leading up to the season played a part in that decision.

“Players have to repay the faith and he has made a great start and needs to keep reading the game the well and trusting himself on what he can do at number 4. He is good against pace and spin and that number is ideal for him,” said the head coach.

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Talking more about the change he has seen in Parag over the years, Sangakkara said: “The biggest change we have seen in him is his maturity and self awareness. What your game is and how your lifestyle is on and off field. All of that has changed in Riyan.

“He is still a very young cricketer, he should not forget that. He has also seen the huge jump Jaiswal and now Jurel have made. He has got the hunger now and example to follow.” While Jaiswal made a memorable debut for India last year before establishing himself as a Test opener, Jurel made instant impact in the recent home series against England.

The performance of the two Royals at the highest level doesn’t surprise Sangakkara. “I dont think he (Jurel) exceeded expectations. Both of them are exceptional cricketers. Jurel is still doing the heavy lifting (for Royals). He showed in the England series value of preparation.” Both have worked hard at the Royals Academy in Maharashtra’s Talegaon under Zubin Bharucha and the hardwork finally seems to be paying off.

“Sometimes good old fashioned hardwork pays off. That is what they both (Jurel and Jaiswal) have done. It is just a start, they will have tough times in the future and they will have to readjust when teams have a good look at them. But they are definitely on the right track,” added the head coach.

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