'Take the reality check and accept' - Virat Kohli's direct message to Riyan Parag
Riyan Parag revealed a prudent word of advice from Virat Kohli received at the sidelines of IPL 2023 earlier in the year. The youthful and promising Assam and Rajasthan Royals (RR) batter, who just revived his best game with an excellent campaign in the Deodhar Trophy for East Zone, recalled Kohli playing a role in his turnaround with the bat in hand.
Speaking to Indian Express, Parag said the modern-day legend told him he must stick to his process without being doubtful of it and his overall game when the chips are down. The advice was critical since it occurred in the face of a horrific IPL campaign for the Royals: just 78 runs in seven innings at a strike-rate of 118.18.
Even as Parag faltered one innings after another after being sent in to play a highly volatile role of an end-overs aggressor, Kohli made it a point to remind him that as long he is getting his process right in practice and in the middle, the results will ultimately follow.
It took time but Kohli's words eventually came to fruition in a bumper fashion during the Deodhar Trophy played in Puducherry where Parag finished as the 'Player of the Series'.
Riyan Parag recalls Kohli's advice after bumper Deodhar Trophy
The elegant cricketer hammered two outstanding hundreds during his five-game campaign for the East Zone while also taking crucial breakthroughs with his useful spin bowling. The 21-year-old produced a 354 runs, including knocks of 131 off 102 versus North Zone and 102 off 68 against West Zone, and bagged 11 wickets in a spectacular campaign.
Even on the heels of the Deodhar Trophy when he played the Emerging Teams' Asia Cup in Sri Lanka one wouldn't have anticipated Parag to come out as the most dominant figure of the zonal List A tournament. Parag believes this turnaround wouldn't have been possible if he had lost patience and not stuck to Kohli's word.
"Mai puri baat nahi bata paunga (I cannot tell you the exact conversation). He told me ‘something that has worked for half a year cannot be wrong after a few failures. What happens in the IPL is that the tournament goes on so fast that after failing in two games, you start to question yourself," Parag said.
"Everyone makes mistakes and I have made tons of them. Two-three games don’t go your way and you feel (the need) to change your process and work ethic."
"It was him telling me that ‘take the reality check and accept that this is a bad phase but it doesn’t mean that you need to change the process that has been working for you’," he added.
Parag's an example of a young player being subjected to the worst side of social media. He has been brutally criticised on Twitter for his failures and even worse, his style and celebrations following a breakthrough. That seemed to have bogged him down further when the runs just didn't arrive during IPL 2023, for which the Royals had repurchased him for INR 3.8 crores. But the youngster says he has learnt to ignore the white noise over time.
"People have a problem with me chewing gum. If my collar is up that’s a problem. I celebrate after taking a catch that’s a problem. They have a problem with me gaming and playing golf in my off time," he said.
"I have an idea why people hate me. There is a rulebook about how you should play cricket. The T-shirt should be tucked in, the collar should be down, give respect to everyone, don’t sledge anyone, and I am completely the opposite," Parag added.