“Remember the name, Paul Valthaty”, screamed Harsha Bhogle as the Mumbai based batsman, who plays for the Kings XI Punjab, eased his way to an outstanding hundred against the Chennai Super Kings. The match winning knock involved some of the cleanest hits seen on a cricket field and the lusty blows off some quality bowlers showed his talent. The pitch was easy to bat on, but that kind of clean hitting is hard to maintain even in the shortest format in the game.
In contrast to the knock, the journey of Valthaty has not been as smooth. Another talented youngster to come out of Mumbai, he showed plenty of promise in the early stages of career. Some big scores in the age level tournaments showcased his talent to the selectors and he was selected to play for the Indian u-19 team that went to the World Cup in Bangladesh in 2002. And that is where things started going wrong for Valthaty.
An eye injury cut short his stay with the Indian team and it took him almost three years to get back to the level he was playing. A promising start seemed to be in ruins. He never played for Mumbai as he had aspired. However, that did not deter him and he joined Air India, a corporate with rich cricket history and an experienced captain in, Hrishikesh Kanitkar. Valthaty grew in confidence during that stint and was even entrusted the captaincy in Kanitkar’s absence.
The Mumbai call did come, but in a single one day game against Baroda. However, Valthaty was not to be disheartened. He wanted to remain in cricket despite all the disappointments and that got him a contract with the Rajasthan Royals in the Indian Premier League. That also earned him a call up to the Mumbai T-20 side. However, the stint with the Royals did not go as planned andhe played just one game for them.
A change of season, a change in team and finally change in fortunes for Valthaty. He was recommended to the Kings XI team by his good friend and fellow Mumbaiker, Abhishek Nayar. It was with Nayar, that Valthaty seemed to share his success with real joy, after that excellent hundred.
The knock is also a great thing for his team, Kings XI Punjab. The side has lost many of its stars and looked as if its fortunes depended on Adam Gilchrist. This knock, however, shows that there is talent in the side apart from the Australian. Valthaty did not seem over the top after the knock. He looked a humble man, who had seen all the ups and downs in life and will take it on his stride.