The youngest player to score a half-century in the history of IPL, Riyan Parag considers his experiences with Rajasthan Royals and the U-19 World Cup as small steps towards achieving his main goal of breaking into the Indian senior team one day.
Parag, at 17 years, Saturday became the youngest cricketer to score a fifty in IPL after he struck 50 off 49 balls to guide Rajasthan Royals to 115 for nine against Delhi Capitals in a losing cause.
The all-rounder from Assam played seven games for Rajasthan in his maiden IPL this year, and impressed all and sundry by scoring 160 runs at an average of 40.
"It has been decent for me. As it was my first IPL I did not think I will be playing as many matches. I came here to just learn as much as I can and have the experience and go home, but now I am really happy I could contribute to my team," Parag told reporters after Rajasthan lost to Delhi by five wickets to draw curtains on their IPL campaign this season.
"My journey has had a lot of ups and downs. The U-19 World Cup was a really high point in my career and now the IPL. Playing for RR was a different experience all together.
"The main goal has always been to play for the senior Indian team. U-19 World Cup and IPL are small steps that will lead to my goal. I will just now be looking to perform at the domestic season again and then the IPL next year," he added.
Parag was part of the India's 2018 U-19 World Cup-winning squad.
The young batsman, who held the fort for Rajasthan Saturday, said it was a difficult Kotla wicket to bat on.
"It was a quite a tricky surface. We thought it will be better to bat first on but the ball was stopping quite a bit and it was turning as well," Parag said.
Rajasthan coach Paddy Upton termed 2019 as a season of missed opportunities for his side.
"It has been disappointing, a season of lost opportunities. We had a really good team, we knew some of our senior players will be leaving towards the back end, and we had hoped to stack together some good performances and to be in strong position," Upton said.
Delhi Capitals fielding coach Mohammad Kaif praised Ishant Sharma and Amit Mishra for their outstanding bowling display on Saturday.
Both Ishant and Mishra snared three wickets apiece to rattle Rajasthan.
"Ishant is a big factor in our success this year. His IPL career has been full of ups and downs. But his recent form in Test matches in Australia, South Africa and England was tremendous.
That is why we were sure that we wanted Ishant in our team for this season. Now the way he has repaid our trust is just incredible. It just shows that if you back a player, then the player gets confidence and achieves a lot for the team," he said.
"He has developed a lot of variations. Ishant Sharma is not just a swing bowler any more. He is bowling different types of slower balls, there are the cutters, the slower bouncers -- so it just shows that he has many weapons in his armoury now."