KKR vs RR: Isn’t he an impressive young man? – Steve Smith on Riyan Parag

17-year-old Riyan Parag announced himself on the grand stage of IPL 2019 with a level-headed knock off 47 off just 31 balls, setting up a three-wicket win for Rajasthan Royals over Kolkata Knight Riders in Match 43 at the Eden Gardens and everybody was in awe of the Assam-born batsman, including his skipper Steve Smith.

“Riyan Parag .. isn’t he an impressive young man? He played very composed like a seasoned campaigner,” said Smith during the post-match presentation.

Parag came into bat after RR lost Smith in the eighth over, and even though he lost senior partners Ben Stokes and Stuart Binny at the other end, he kept his composure to play out a probing spell from KKR spinners Piyush Chawla and Sunil Narine.

And when the pacers were introduced in to the attack, Parag got going and accelerated. He combined with Shreyas Gopal for a stand of 25 runs for the fifth wicket for revive RR chase and then got together with Jofra Archer for a match-winning 44-run stand for the sixth wicket.

Skipper Smith also acknowledged Gopal and Archer’s contribution as well. “Great contribution from Gopal and Archer too. I thought they bowled really well with the new ball, first 7-8 overs,” he said.

Earlier, despite Oshane Thomas and Varun Aaron putting in a decent spell up front on a green Eden Gardens track, KKT were buoyed by skipper Dinesh Karthik’s 50-ball 97-run knock, helping KKR to 175/6.

“Oshane did well in his first game. Varun Aaron was exceptional with the new ball. The boys did a great job,” said Smith, adding, “There was some really good shots from DK, who played a terrific innings”.

Smith, who could make only two runs in the match, did concede that they lost way in the middle, but was happy that his team crossed the line.

“We made it difficult for ourselves. We lost too many wickets in the middle section after a good start. Happy to get over the line. The first 5-6 games, we weren’t able to creep over the line. It’s good to creep over the line tonight,” said Smith, who recently took over the captaincy from Ajinkya Rahane.

With their fourth win RR are seventh on the points table now, but they will be dented with the departures of Archer and Ben Stokes – owing to national duty – in the coming matches and Smith hopes that the team can string together a few wins despite losing out on their key players.

“We lose a few players now. Jofra and Stokesy are off tonight, they go back to England now – two big holes to fill. I am here for 13 games. After the Bangalore one, I’ll be heading back. Hopefully, I can contribute and see if we can get few more wins,” he added