Mumbai, April 13: Rajasthan Royals team director Kumar Sangakkara heaped praise on youngsters, especially pacer Chetan Sakariya and batsman Riyan Parag for their effort in the team's IPL 2021 campaign opener against Punjab Kings.
Skipper Sanju Samson, who scored 119 off 63 balls, took the game deep, but couldn't help RR reach the target of 222 set by PBKS, who claimed a narrow 4-run win in a high-scoring game at the Wankhede Stadium in Mumbai on Monday (April 12).
Apart from the skipper, youngsters Parag and Sakariya also had good outings, and Sangakkara was full of praise for the duo starting with the batting knock from the former.
"Riyan is a special player, as you would have seen. He has got amazing hand speed, great composure and (Mohammed) Shami with his experience took a risk bowling a bumper at that time, and Riyan just didn't get enough bat on it.
"That is the nature of the game, that is risk and reward, and I love watching Riyan play with that freedom and when you play with freedom sometimes wickets do fall.
"Riyan and Sanju were both having a wonderful partnership and got us into the game, with batters to come to try and finish it. I am really encouraged by the passion and commitment showed by all the younger players."
Parag added 52 runs with skipper Sanju Samson on way to his 11-ball 25, which was studded with three sixes, while Sakariya, making his debut, claimed three wickets and also took a superb catch.
"He (Sakariya) was just brilliant, his skill was on display but it was really wonderful to watch a bowler in such a high-scoring match, always smiling, always in the game, he took an amazing catch at short-fine leg.
"He managed to come back and bowl with the new ball and then he bowled at the depth when everyone was taking punishment, so it speaks a lot about his skill, his attitude and it is great to have him in the side."
It has been a tough phase for Sakariya whose younger brother committed suicide in January while he was playing at the T20 Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy.
Son of a tempo driver, Sakariya was among the wickets in the tournament and was picked up by Rajasthan for Rs 1.2 crore in the mini auction.
"He is a simple guy, and he's had ups and downs in life and he's here to enjoy his cricket and our job is to support that and it's really good to see the control that he had and the change-ups and picked the moments to bowl them," Sangakkara said.
"He'll get better and things will get tougher when batsmen get used to him and analysing a bit more, but I think Chetan is a young man who I think will have a very, very good future."
Royals will next face Delhi Capitals in the IPL 2021 at the Wankhede Stadium in Mumbai on Thursday (April 15).