Punjab v Chennai, IPL 2011, Mohali April 13, 2011

Veni, vidi, Valthaty

Paul Valthaty's unbeaten 120 was among the most memorable of IPL innings, one that made even MS Dhoni wilt under pressure
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A joke began to do the rounds on Twitter and on ESPNcricinfo's commentary feedback when a shy and stodgy batsman walked out with Adam Gilchrist to open Punjab's chase of 189. "Knock knock. Who's there? Valthaty. Valthaty, who? Val, thirty runs fewer would have been easier to chase." It captured the viewing public's sheer incredulity over the move. Here were the IPL's cellar-dwellers facing a mountain against the defending champions, pushing down their most successful batsman, Shaun Marsh, in favour of an unknown. That sentiment soon disappeared and, 120 runs later, was ground into the Mohali dust.

What remained was one question: Just who is Paul Valthaty? He has played only one domestic one-day game. In three previous IPL innings, he had managed scores of 5, 1 and 6. Even his ESPNcricinfo profile had an unrecognisable picture, possibly from his school days. Back in 2002, Valthaty was a member of India's Under-19 squad, rubbing shoulders with the likes of Irfan Pathan, Parthiv Patel and Ambati Rayudu. Dilip Vengsarkar, who was the manager of that team, expected big things from him but unfortunately Valthaty was struck in the eye and his career stalled.

All that changed, after 63 balls of the cleanest hitting, against an attack that was close to international standard. Valthaty's unbeaten century was among the more memorable IPL innings, one that made even the seemingly invincible MS Dhoni wilt under pressure. And it made India sit up and take note.

Gilchrist later revealed Valthaty was always one of Punjab's first-choice openers. "Paul hit some nice shots in the first match [against Pune], but unfortunately got out," Gilchrist said after the game. "He showed some talent in the warm-up games too. That was an amazing innings. I loved standing around [at the other end] and watching him go today."

Gilchrist is clearly not the batsman he once was yet the ease with which Valthaty reduced him to a spectator boggled the mind. His batting is based on the principle of getting behind the line with a half-step forward, and then hitting through it. He attacked every time Chennai's bowlers landed the ball in his half, with an audacious series of drives, clips and whips. His stand with Gilchrist yielded 61 off 5.5 overs, and set Punjab up nicely for the post-Powerplay hustle.

When the field fell back, Valthaty responded by stepping up a gear. Every time Chennai got a wicket, he counter-punched with clever boundaries. He played a couple of late-cuts, cover drives off either foot, pick-up shots through the off side and, towards the end, two delicate steers through point when the seamers landed yorkers wide of the stumps. While he was punishing the good balls, he ensured he did not waste a single poor delivery.

"In all fairness it was a belter of a track," Valthaty said later. Twice. "I am modest," he then added when prompted to bask in the glory of his accomplishment. "It was a dream-come-true for me. I believed in myself, and my team management believed in me, and it all came together perfectly today. I had started preparing two months before the IPL, and it all paid off today. The hundred is yet to sink in. I will never forget that moment, and it meant a lot to me."

The IPL is littered with flash-in-the-pan 40s and 50s, but Valthaty had taken it upon himself to see the chase through, which impressed Dhoni. "Paul batted really well," Dhoni said. "He was at his best throughout, a challenge was thrown at him and he was up to it. He went on till the end, which is very important - he did not leave it for others."

In the pre-IPL era, Valthaty would have not got another chance. India now knows who he is. It's now up to him to stay in the spotlight.

Nitin Sundar is a sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • on April 14, 2011, 18:35 GMT

    I saw him in the hotel in Chandigarh but did nt know he will become a star in few hours..how I rue not talking to him and clicking with him... an opportunity missed

  • on April 14, 2011, 14:12 GMT

    Interested things to know.............1. At Cricinfo, no photo was available to display (only was a portrait of his school life) now manyyyyy..............2. On Facebook only couple of people were like him, now over 2000 person like himmmm.............3. He is also in Cricinfo list of Most Popular Search (You can see also his name at top of this website).................It is start only

  • on April 14, 2011, 13:59 GMT

    Paul Valthaty Batting Was Amazing - Awesome - Brilliant - This was the BEST Inning of IPL and One of the Best of T20..........There Was No Power Hitting, Not Going to Big Hits and One of The Most Important thing was Cool & Calmness.........He Went on Till the End, Which Was Very Important, He Did Not Leave it for Others.........He Hits only 2 Sixes in 120 on 63 Balls only.............19 Fours is also a Record of most fours in an Innings in IPL History.........He played Cricket Book Shots (All this kind of qualities make him a Genuine Cricket Player that needed to be ODI as well Test).............If He Can Score Constantly with This Temperament than Should Be Get Call For Indian Team.........

  • Go_F.Alonso on April 14, 2011, 10:32 GMT

    This is why I love the IPL. It's the Indian Domestic players that benefit the most from this event each year. We are getting to know our players. I've never met or heard of a person who has been to a Ranji game, in fact I myself do not know who plays in my state team, not even the captain. Hopefully in the near future, we can catch our stars in Ranji action, thanks to their popularity from IPL.

  • him406 on April 14, 2011, 7:59 GMT

    @Prasanna Vallinayagam mate Manish Pandey is banned for 4 matches because of the way he negotiated for his place with IPl teams. He will be a permanent member of the team after serving the ban

  • on April 14, 2011, 7:11 GMT

    @Madhavan.Varun: U r rite, i understood that the pitch was a belter when a guy like Vijay and Dhoni strike at almost 200% Otherwise its not the case.....Its ur team decision to send in Badri as they were tottering at 0 for 2 in a belter.....Couldn't accept the fact that CSK got the taste of its own medicine?????? Blaming on the lights as though u were there in the stadium, dont forget that this was the stadium which hosted the semi final between India and pakistan, how come the lights suddenly became bad, its CSK players who were complacent after scoring 187 that made to drop catches, never mind fortune favours the brave like Paul... To guys who think Manish Pandey is a one time wonder, he is performing consistently in Ranji Trophies, better than highly rated Saurabh Tiwary, unfortunatley he didin't get much chance with RCB even after decent performances, even now Pune prefers Mithun Manahas over Pandey for some reason unknown, but pandey is a better batsman than vijay & Tiwary

  • on April 14, 2011, 6:39 GMT

    New Virender Sehwag .He proved what he's capable of.A valient knock of 120.

  • nanvic on April 14, 2011, 6:08 GMT

    First of all people stop comparing his innings with manish pandey. Yesterday he was simply unstoppable. Played all orthodox strokes and most importantly found the gaps. If u do not have talent then u cannot find gaps with the regularity of this guy. Now for all Manish Pandey bashers, yes he scored the first ipl century and then failed consistently only in IPL. Reason?? Hes game has changed a great bit after that innings. He has scored heavily in the domestic first class matches and even in emerging players tournament in australia.I have been a keen follower of domestic matches too and he was like a back bone of karnatakas batting after rahul dravid and he has been the saviour. . Yes he has slowed down a bit with his batting ..this is coz he is been playing with the likes of Kallis, dravid for 3 yrs now and it ought to have some +ve effect on him and he values his wicket more now. and he is just 20+ somethin and has a lot to learn. got all the strokes in the book. so leave him alone

  • on April 14, 2011, 5:05 GMT

    Heartening to see one of the fringe-players make a mark thru the IPL. And most of his runs were thru proper strokes and he cud play all around the wkt. But then the ind team is so packed with batting talent that its almost impossible to find a spot there...wud really like to c some totally bowler make a big impact...that wud really pitchfork him into the national squad given india's perennial bowling shortage

  • manasvi_lingam on April 14, 2011, 2:57 GMT

    I was impressed by the knock especially because it came while chasing a large total and he did it almost single-handed against a very good attack. BUT, let us NOT over-hype this effort. People hyped up Pandey after that hundred and he's not done well at all in T20 or in other formats. Similarly, Shane Warne praised Yusuf Pathan's 36 ball 100 as one of the best innings ever and we all know how many limitations Yusuf has. I only hope that Valthaty can maintain his consistency and at least make it to the Indian T20 team in the future. I don't think he has the right temperament/technique to succeed in Tests. And the fact is that the Test and ODI teams have only 1 slot open. Whereas, in T20 there are a good no. of positions available in the international squad because only Yuvi, Dhoni, Raina, Gambhir and Sehwag are certain. The other 2 slots are up for grabs.

  • on April 14, 2011, 18:35 GMT

    I saw him in the hotel in Chandigarh but did nt know he will become a star in few hours..how I rue not talking to him and clicking with him... an opportunity missed

  • on April 14, 2011, 14:12 GMT

    Interested things to know.............1. At Cricinfo, no photo was available to display (only was a portrait of his school life) now manyyyyy..............2. On Facebook only couple of people were like him, now over 2000 person like himmmm.............3. He is also in Cricinfo list of Most Popular Search (You can see also his name at top of this website).................It is start only

  • on April 14, 2011, 13:59 GMT

    Paul Valthaty Batting Was Amazing - Awesome - Brilliant - This was the BEST Inning of IPL and One of the Best of T20..........There Was No Power Hitting, Not Going to Big Hits and One of The Most Important thing was Cool & Calmness.........He Went on Till the End, Which Was Very Important, He Did Not Leave it for Others.........He Hits only 2 Sixes in 120 on 63 Balls only.............19 Fours is also a Record of most fours in an Innings in IPL History.........He played Cricket Book Shots (All this kind of qualities make him a Genuine Cricket Player that needed to be ODI as well Test).............If He Can Score Constantly with This Temperament than Should Be Get Call For Indian Team.........

  • Go_F.Alonso on April 14, 2011, 10:32 GMT

    This is why I love the IPL. It's the Indian Domestic players that benefit the most from this event each year. We are getting to know our players. I've never met or heard of a person who has been to a Ranji game, in fact I myself do not know who plays in my state team, not even the captain. Hopefully in the near future, we can catch our stars in Ranji action, thanks to their popularity from IPL.

  • him406 on April 14, 2011, 7:59 GMT

    @Prasanna Vallinayagam mate Manish Pandey is banned for 4 matches because of the way he negotiated for his place with IPl teams. He will be a permanent member of the team after serving the ban

  • on April 14, 2011, 7:11 GMT

    @Madhavan.Varun: U r rite, i understood that the pitch was a belter when a guy like Vijay and Dhoni strike at almost 200% Otherwise its not the case.....Its ur team decision to send in Badri as they were tottering at 0 for 2 in a belter.....Couldn't accept the fact that CSK got the taste of its own medicine?????? Blaming on the lights as though u were there in the stadium, dont forget that this was the stadium which hosted the semi final between India and pakistan, how come the lights suddenly became bad, its CSK players who were complacent after scoring 187 that made to drop catches, never mind fortune favours the brave like Paul... To guys who think Manish Pandey is a one time wonder, he is performing consistently in Ranji Trophies, better than highly rated Saurabh Tiwary, unfortunatley he didin't get much chance with RCB even after decent performances, even now Pune prefers Mithun Manahas over Pandey for some reason unknown, but pandey is a better batsman than vijay & Tiwary

  • on April 14, 2011, 6:39 GMT

    New Virender Sehwag .He proved what he's capable of.A valient knock of 120.

  • nanvic on April 14, 2011, 6:08 GMT

    First of all people stop comparing his innings with manish pandey. Yesterday he was simply unstoppable. Played all orthodox strokes and most importantly found the gaps. If u do not have talent then u cannot find gaps with the regularity of this guy. Now for all Manish Pandey bashers, yes he scored the first ipl century and then failed consistently only in IPL. Reason?? Hes game has changed a great bit after that innings. He has scored heavily in the domestic first class matches and even in emerging players tournament in australia.I have been a keen follower of domestic matches too and he was like a back bone of karnatakas batting after rahul dravid and he has been the saviour. . Yes he has slowed down a bit with his batting ..this is coz he is been playing with the likes of Kallis, dravid for 3 yrs now and it ought to have some +ve effect on him and he values his wicket more now. and he is just 20+ somethin and has a lot to learn. got all the strokes in the book. so leave him alone

  • on April 14, 2011, 5:05 GMT

    Heartening to see one of the fringe-players make a mark thru the IPL. And most of his runs were thru proper strokes and he cud play all around the wkt. But then the ind team is so packed with batting talent that its almost impossible to find a spot there...wud really like to c some totally bowler make a big impact...that wud really pitchfork him into the national squad given india's perennial bowling shortage

  • manasvi_lingam on April 14, 2011, 2:57 GMT

    I was impressed by the knock especially because it came while chasing a large total and he did it almost single-handed against a very good attack. BUT, let us NOT over-hype this effort. People hyped up Pandey after that hundred and he's not done well at all in T20 or in other formats. Similarly, Shane Warne praised Yusuf Pathan's 36 ball 100 as one of the best innings ever and we all know how many limitations Yusuf has. I only hope that Valthaty can maintain his consistency and at least make it to the Indian T20 team in the future. I don't think he has the right temperament/technique to succeed in Tests. And the fact is that the Test and ODI teams have only 1 slot open. Whereas, in T20 there are a good no. of positions available in the international squad because only Yuvi, Dhoni, Raina, Gambhir and Sehwag are certain. The other 2 slots are up for grabs.

  • vswami on April 14, 2011, 1:48 GMT

    For his sake I wish he had scored 80 and not 120. People would have left him alone. Now everyone will be on his case trying to prove that he is flawed here and flawed there. But on evidence he is more mature and has a better game than the likes of Manish Pandey. This is the first 100 by a non international in IPL which is a great credit to him.

  • on April 14, 2011, 1:04 GMT

    Belter of a wicket or pelter of wicket, whatever it is ...this guy is awesome. Nothing can take away credit from this bloke, who made the much reputated players reduced to mere spectators...One of the most enjoyed innings IPL ever. Pure entertainment...Go Val haty go....be the Viv of this era!

  • Rayer_Fernando on April 13, 2011, 23:27 GMT

    I watched his style of batting. he is cool , no fear and 100 confident. i was watching hi shots until he scored 100. then i realized oohh... Chennai super Kings going loose.... not in mood to to see that as i an CSK fan.. so, i switched off TV. later on i come to know ..yes CSK lost........ But Murali vijay should hold his temper because the way he played he might get 3 numbers........ he can do it... he will become the 1st one to score 2nd century in IPL all the best to him ....... All the best to Chennai Super Kings.........

  • on April 13, 2011, 23:08 GMT

    Really refreshing.. This is what T20 is for..

  • inxia on April 13, 2011, 22:28 GMT

    I think that one of the most enjoyable aspects of following cricket is being able to get much too excited about one great innings. Therefore, I would immediately make Paul Valthaty captain of India in all three formats and pre-select him for the next election as Indian Prime Minister.

  • Madhavan.Varun on April 13, 2011, 21:54 GMT

    I am sorry... Calling him a super star based on this innings alone is pure tosh... The pitch today was a bowler's graveyard... and the only reason why CSK didn't post 230+ today was because Badrinath is not that renowned a hard hitter... Else every other batsman out there was able to milk every bowler who came in the way...

    I didn't expect CSK to drop so many opportunities though... Either way, This guy has done nothing in a decent track to claim all this kind of limelight... and he rode his luck one too many times.. He edged atleast 4 times to boundaries... and was dropped twice I think? CSK was simply caught unawares of the fact that this was an awesome batting track... Nothing more...

    And One very important thing... THe low lights at Mohali sucks... Any ball that's skied is simply not visible... and any ball that flies flat to the fielder is easily blurred by the glaring lights in the background...

  • on April 13, 2011, 21:03 GMT

    Well, the accolates he is getting is similar to what Manish Pandey received on his IPL century. Let's wait for consistency before pushing him as the greatest Indian talent ever! It was a great innings, no doubt!

  • xylo on April 13, 2011, 20:54 GMT

    To me, the most important sentence in this was - "It's now up to him to stay in the spotlight. "

  • on April 13, 2011, 19:49 GMT

    Paul Valthaty Batting Was Amazing - Awesome - Brilliant - This was the BEST Inning of IPL and One of the Best of T20..........There Was No Power Hitting, Not Going to Big Hits and One of The Most Important thing was Cool & Calmness.........He Went on Till the End, Which Was Very Important, He Did Not Leave it for Others.........He Hits only 2 Sixes in 120 on 63 Balls only.............19 Fours is also a Record of most fours in an Innings in IPL History.........He played Cricket Book Shots (All this kind of qualities make him a Genuine Cricket Player that needed to be ODI as well Test).............If He Can Score Constantly with This Temperament than Should Be Get Call For Indian Team.........

  • the_blue_android on April 13, 2011, 19:47 GMT

    Was monitoring cricinfo score once every 20 mins this morning and I thought Paul was either an SA or Australian import! I couldn't believe my eyes when I saw this guy plunder runs over after over especially with just 1 domestic match under his belt. What a talent! Will definitely check out the next game he plays ! What a player!

  • RGee on April 13, 2011, 19:34 GMT

    I agree with sunnydays............

  • on April 13, 2011, 19:18 GMT

    Heartened to see IPL still throwing up new prospects for the future India National team

  • Milind_SRTFan on April 13, 2011, 19:09 GMT

    Please dont judge hime by an innings. Let him enjoy his cricket and grow up with it. If he has that talent, he will surely be in the Indian Team. We need some one like this in T20 than in Tests.

  • sunnydays on April 13, 2011, 19:08 GMT

    In re: abhi_cricinfo's comment: TEST CRICKET? TEST CRICKET!! Are you kidding man!. One good knock in 20-20 or for that matter 50-over game does not make a test batsman. Jeez man! this is 20-20....please do not mix it with the purity of test batsmanship.... and that too after one knock!! does this man deserve a chance.....surely, in 1st class cricket, state teams....perhaps India A....but test cricket!!! nah you are kidding me.....let him perform some more!

  • on April 13, 2011, 18:51 GMT

    paul or val or ithy whoever he proved his talent playing againts defending champion csk but i never see any pressure on his face . Realy good finding for team india

  • on April 13, 2011, 18:30 GMT

    Good stuff Paul!! Way to Go!!

  • abhi_cricinfo on April 13, 2011, 18:15 GMT

    He has broken record of most fours by a player in T20 cricket. What way to come under spot-light. I know opposition had only 3 good bowlers but India needs this kind of guy at No.6 spot in Test matches. He got all the shots from the book.

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  • abhi_cricinfo on April 13, 2011, 18:15 GMT

    He has broken record of most fours by a player in T20 cricket. What way to come under spot-light. I know opposition had only 3 good bowlers but India needs this kind of guy at No.6 spot in Test matches. He got all the shots from the book.

  • on April 13, 2011, 18:30 GMT

    Good stuff Paul!! Way to Go!!

  • on April 13, 2011, 18:51 GMT

    paul or val or ithy whoever he proved his talent playing againts defending champion csk but i never see any pressure on his face . Realy good finding for team india

  • sunnydays on April 13, 2011, 19:08 GMT

    In re: abhi_cricinfo's comment: TEST CRICKET? TEST CRICKET!! Are you kidding man!. One good knock in 20-20 or for that matter 50-over game does not make a test batsman. Jeez man! this is 20-20....please do not mix it with the purity of test batsmanship.... and that too after one knock!! does this man deserve a chance.....surely, in 1st class cricket, state teams....perhaps India A....but test cricket!!! nah you are kidding me.....let him perform some more!

  • Milind_SRTFan on April 13, 2011, 19:09 GMT

    Please dont judge hime by an innings. Let him enjoy his cricket and grow up with it. If he has that talent, he will surely be in the Indian Team. We need some one like this in T20 than in Tests.

  • on April 13, 2011, 19:18 GMT

    Heartened to see IPL still throwing up new prospects for the future India National team

  • RGee on April 13, 2011, 19:34 GMT

    I agree with sunnydays............

  • the_blue_android on April 13, 2011, 19:47 GMT

    Was monitoring cricinfo score once every 20 mins this morning and I thought Paul was either an SA or Australian import! I couldn't believe my eyes when I saw this guy plunder runs over after over especially with just 1 domestic match under his belt. What a talent! Will definitely check out the next game he plays ! What a player!

  • on April 13, 2011, 19:49 GMT

    Paul Valthaty Batting Was Amazing - Awesome - Brilliant - This was the BEST Inning of IPL and One of the Best of T20..........There Was No Power Hitting, Not Going to Big Hits and One of The Most Important thing was Cool & Calmness.........He Went on Till the End, Which Was Very Important, He Did Not Leave it for Others.........He Hits only 2 Sixes in 120 on 63 Balls only.............19 Fours is also a Record of most fours in an Innings in IPL History.........He played Cricket Book Shots (All this kind of qualities make him a Genuine Cricket Player that needed to be ODI as well Test).............If He Can Score Constantly with This Temperament than Should Be Get Call For Indian Team.........

  • xylo on April 13, 2011, 20:54 GMT

    To me, the most important sentence in this was - "It's now up to him to stay in the spotlight. "