A never say die attitude took Paul Valthaty to the limelight
If Paul Valthaty has emerged the new superstar of Indian cricket after two match winning knocks for his team Kings XI Punjab in the ongoing Indian Premier League and figures among the top run-getters, there is a heart-wrenching story of wait, marked by patience and perseverance, behind the success.
What kept the 27-year-old Mumbai boy waiting for a decade to finally get the spotlight he so deserves was an unforeseen injury under his eye against Bangladesh in the Under-19 World Cup in New Zealand in 2002. While some of his old teammates like Irfan Pathan, Parthiv Patel and Dinesh Karthik moved on to represent the Indian senior team, Paul was out of action for a couple of years. He had been selected as a probable for the Mumbai Ranji Trophy team, but the injury put paid to his hopes.
Resilience pays: After an injury on the eye, Paul was determined to get back to playing the sport he loved and reach the top
However, Paul was determined to stage a comeback. “It was difficult after the injury, but I always believed in perseverance and hard work,” said Paul. He credits his family and friends as a pillar of strength during those hard times.
After he became fit to play, he joined Air India and played for them under an experienced former Indian cricketer Hrishikesh Kanitkar.
Ask him what motivated him to rise like a phoenix and he says no motivation is needed if one believed in oneself and is passionate about what one is doing.
For this student of Dilip Vengsarkar Academy, it was the love for cricket that kept him going even though he couldn’t play the Ranji match early on.
The 2009 Indian Premier League was a turning point for this talented batsman and medium pace bowler when he got an opportunity to play for Rajasthan Royals. Later, he got a break into Mumbai’s Twenty-20 side. However, despite his good performance, the youngster was left out of the Mumbai team in the knockout stages of the West Zone T 20 league this season.
But when Punjab Kings XI gave him a look-in, Paul grabbed the opportunity with both hands with his two memorable knocks. In the second match against Chennai Super Kings, his match winning knock of 120 not out helped his team surpass Chennai’s total of 189.
Paul is all praise for his captain. “Gilchrist is a motivational hero and my partnership with him is truly inspirational,” says Paul. His father, though an engineer, supported him throughout, right from the time when as a six-year-old he showed keen interest in cricket.
His mother, a doctor, however insisted he study. His three elder sisters are in the medical profession. However this native of Andhra Pradesh admits that he only knows one thing - playing cricket.
“I saw a spark in him when he was sixteen, he had the basic intelligence required to go to the next level,” said cricket journalist Makarand Waingankar. Paul has great respect for Makarand and calls him his mentor.
Makarand sent him a sms before he went out to bat in the match against Chennai Super Kings, it read; “Hang around for just 10 balls and the bowlers will watch you for the rest of the time.” Not just the bowlers, a whole nation watched and applauded his scintillating performance.