Punjab v Chennai, IPL 2011, Mohali April 14, 2011

Valthaty graduates from school of hard knocks

It has been an arduous journey, but if this convoluted route leads to bigger rewards, as it has for others before him, Paul Valthaty will accept it
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"Hang around for just ten balls, and the bowlers will watch you for the rest of the time." This was the text message Paul Valthaty received from cricket journalist Makarand Waingankar, who has mentored him from age 11. The sms arrived after Kings XI Punjab's match on Sunday against Pune Warriors, when Valthaty batted six deliveries before slashing aggressively to point. He'd probably forgotten the advice on Wednesday, against Chennai Super Kings, when his first ten deliveries faced had yielded three boundaries and one dropped catch. But he hung around for another 53 balls to finish unbeaten on 120, the third-highest individual score in the IPL.

Valthaty's career is a similarly unconventional story, including a decade in the wilderness after a promising start. The future had seemed bright in 2001, when he was selected for the Mumbai Ranji Trophy probables, and the following year he played for India in the Under-19 World Cup. It seemed a natural extension to his junior career, when he'd played for some of the best sides in Mumbai: Don Bosco High School, Vengsarkar Academy, Podar College, Rizvi College.

He started out as a batsman who bowled a bit, which he remains to this day, and Dilip Vengsarkar saw potential in the then 12-year old Valthaty. "He displayed great promise and scored heavily for the academy in local matches," Vengsarkar told Hindustan Times. A chance move up the order had allowed him to display his appetite for runs. "During an Under-14 game, I was asked to open, and I ended up getting 197," Valthaty said. Gradually, he built up a reputation as a prolific scorer at age-group level.

But the focus of his dreams, the Mumbai Ranji call-up, never happened. An injury under his eye against Bangladesh that cut short his World Cup stint did not help. "I took 2-3 years to get back on track," Valthaty told ESPNcricinfo. The world had moved ahead by then but he joined Air India, which has a rich cricketing tradition and played under Hrishikesh Kanitkar, a vastly experienced former India player and Ranji-winning captain with Rajasthan. Valthaty grew enough to be chosen leader whenever Kanitkar was unavailable.

Still the Mumbai call-up never arrived, save for a solitary one-dayer against Baroda in 2006. Where did he go wrong? Balwinder Sandhu, Valthaty's coach at the Vengsarkar Academy, thinks that the only thing that he could have done was to improve his shot selection. "He was always an aggressive batsman and a clean hitter. Even if he gets 30 runs, he will hit four good shots that will stay with you for a long time," Sandhu said. "I used to enjoy watching him bat. Excellent technique and thinking cricketer, but he could have worked on his shot selection."

Was it his perceived impetuosity that did him in? Sandhu pointed instead to misfortune. "One of the unlucky few players, I must say. We backed him at that time, we were convinced, but he could not get enough support from the men who matter. Such talents have to be nurtured." Sandhu cited the example of Yusuf Pathan who, despite being initially branded as a hitter, matured enough to play match-winning innings for the country. "People start criticising aggressive players for going for their shots. Such players need a lot of backing, technical as well as emotional. But times have changed. Not many want to invest nowadays in nurturing a cricketer."

But Valthaty did not fade away despite being ignored. He had no other option. "Cricket was all I knew. Any extra motivation was not needed," Valthaty said. "All other things were anyway beyond my control." The IPL brought about a revival in his fortunes, as it has for so many Indian domestic players. Valthaty got a contract with Rajasthan Royals that finally gave him an extended run in the Mumbai team, albeit the Twenty20 side. Then came the Kings XI Punjab call-up. "Abhishek Nayar recommended my name, and Michael Bevan liked what he saw." On Wednesday, as Valthaty walked off the field, he was fairly composed when he greeted his team-mates, accepting their congratulations, shaking hands. The moment of elation - the jump of joy - was reserved for Nayar.

In only his second game for his new franchise, Valthaty has already scripted an innings that has catapulted him in to the national spotlight. It has been an arduous journey but if this convoluted route leads to bigger rewards, as it has for others before him, Valthaty will accept it. Meanwhile, he will keep hanging around, regardless.

Abhishek Purohit is an editorial assistant at ESPNcricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • MaruthuDelft on April 17, 2011, 14:55 GMT

    @Darshan911, it is high time selectors look at Sehwag's record analytically. His doubters expected Sehwag to fail in the last tour to SA; he did fail. Even those doubters expected Sehwag to succeed in the last tour by Australia; he failed. In the ODI's he has a poor record against Aus and SA. In T20 he is not able to succeed even in the IPL. They are facts. Now analyse his game; he finds boundaries in test matches easily because of attacking fields are set and keep going but only in 2 conditions; first the wicket should be easy paced and low; second either the bowling is ordinary or the bowlers were careless in not having a plan against him; he scored that 300 against SA because Stein and Morkel forgot about him. Now see his attitude; he called for decision review in the SF and Fina in the WCl without consulting Tendulkar at the other end; what he thinks of himself?

  • on April 17, 2011, 10:09 GMT

    Hey if he(Valthaty) needs to come up .., then its up to his talent and determination , why we bother if he takes up a place in one day or a test side .., the selecters have their own rule in choosing their eleven .., and even if the selecters have their selection wand on valthaty .., we are not just goin to keep it quiet justifying their actions.., for that he has to shut all our mouths down and even after that one thing is for sure ... whether he comes up or not ,after all these struggles is upto him and his destiny which we are not goin to bother (have we ever even done that thru this blog and our writings ...? wish anyone comment on this... ) To make it big on the stage that matters ...our ideas and opinions is just for this blog and their interests., Wishing him all the success to make big after all this hardships he has undergone ... its difficult to find a seat onboard Cricket Team India ...Coz We're CHAMPIONS for the next 4 years from now .....!!!

  • on April 17, 2011, 5:33 GMT

    It is important that Team India recognizes him as a find and onboard him at he highest level in ODIs and T20Is. Otherwise no success in IPL is worthwhile

  • crickiguy on April 17, 2011, 5:29 GMT

    Hi modesty speaks volumes about his character... and he has loads and loads of self belief.. Future of Indian Cricket is bright... take a bow Valthaty..

  • DaisonGarvasis on April 17, 2011, 5:13 GMT

    The first comment from Kumarms is outragious! He is comparing with Paul with Sachin and Sehwag. Come on man, the guy just played a wonderful innings and one more now against Decans. Let him play and if he deserve a place in the National Side he should get it. Not just Sachin and Sehwag play for India, lesser players are also in the team and its 11 players make the team. And if Yusuf Pathan can be looked after like he has been, Paul should be given a chance if he is consistent enuf. Lets wish him good luck.

  • dhruvans on April 17, 2011, 4:03 GMT

    For all you people jumping the gun a little bit, asking Paul Valthaty to open the batting for the Indian Test side, hold your horses. The guy has played two knocks in IPl, which is completely different to playing one day, and especially test. Where any weekness in your batting will be exposed. I am happy for him and what he has achieved givin his opportunity, but let the man prove himself.

  • kumarms_2000 on April 17, 2011, 1:37 GMT

    well..all these top order bats men may not perform well if thrown at 5th ot 6th down.if so VVSL would have been much better bats men in scoring runs than tendulkar or dravid in test had he given enough chances to bat at 3. i sure am a big fan of him... It definitely will be difficult for this guy paul to come into indian national team but boy sure has got the talent. very level headed. strange that he never really spakred so far.. i hope he is not a one tournament wonder with the way he is playing the shots..cant compare him with Manish pandey for sure... ofcurse he could not have better well with Mumbai or Rajastan if thrown at 5,6 down..he is no michael bevan for sure.... He still needs to improve to match up with likes like Tendulkar or sehwag.. each has their own game.. i wish him good luck...

  • Darshan911 on April 17, 2011, 0:22 GMT

    @Maruthudelft: Why should we drop Shewag out of team. He provided potential strength to our opening stand when India needed the most. His presense gives fear to many bowlers today. I think it's time to get Paul and Shehwag to open innings.

  • on April 16, 2011, 22:38 GMT

    Good Article... Need no Motivation.....

  • on April 16, 2011, 21:43 GMT

    Paul's awesome hitting neutralized the great Dhoni's captaincy!! Wish him all the luck for future.. hope he gets to play under MSD or beyond in national colors.

  • MaruthuDelft on April 17, 2011, 14:55 GMT

    @Darshan911, it is high time selectors look at Sehwag's record analytically. His doubters expected Sehwag to fail in the last tour to SA; he did fail. Even those doubters expected Sehwag to succeed in the last tour by Australia; he failed. In the ODI's he has a poor record against Aus and SA. In T20 he is not able to succeed even in the IPL. They are facts. Now analyse his game; he finds boundaries in test matches easily because of attacking fields are set and keep going but only in 2 conditions; first the wicket should be easy paced and low; second either the bowling is ordinary or the bowlers were careless in not having a plan against him; he scored that 300 against SA because Stein and Morkel forgot about him. Now see his attitude; he called for decision review in the SF and Fina in the WCl without consulting Tendulkar at the other end; what he thinks of himself?

  • on April 17, 2011, 10:09 GMT

    Hey if he(Valthaty) needs to come up .., then its up to his talent and determination , why we bother if he takes up a place in one day or a test side .., the selecters have their own rule in choosing their eleven .., and even if the selecters have their selection wand on valthaty .., we are not just goin to keep it quiet justifying their actions.., for that he has to shut all our mouths down and even after that one thing is for sure ... whether he comes up or not ,after all these struggles is upto him and his destiny which we are not goin to bother (have we ever even done that thru this blog and our writings ...? wish anyone comment on this... ) To make it big on the stage that matters ...our ideas and opinions is just for this blog and their interests., Wishing him all the success to make big after all this hardships he has undergone ... its difficult to find a seat onboard Cricket Team India ...Coz We're CHAMPIONS for the next 4 years from now .....!!!

  • on April 17, 2011, 5:33 GMT

    It is important that Team India recognizes him as a find and onboard him at he highest level in ODIs and T20Is. Otherwise no success in IPL is worthwhile

  • crickiguy on April 17, 2011, 5:29 GMT

    Hi modesty speaks volumes about his character... and he has loads and loads of self belief.. Future of Indian Cricket is bright... take a bow Valthaty..

  • DaisonGarvasis on April 17, 2011, 5:13 GMT

    The first comment from Kumarms is outragious! He is comparing with Paul with Sachin and Sehwag. Come on man, the guy just played a wonderful innings and one more now against Decans. Let him play and if he deserve a place in the National Side he should get it. Not just Sachin and Sehwag play for India, lesser players are also in the team and its 11 players make the team. And if Yusuf Pathan can be looked after like he has been, Paul should be given a chance if he is consistent enuf. Lets wish him good luck.

  • dhruvans on April 17, 2011, 4:03 GMT

    For all you people jumping the gun a little bit, asking Paul Valthaty to open the batting for the Indian Test side, hold your horses. The guy has played two knocks in IPl, which is completely different to playing one day, and especially test. Where any weekness in your batting will be exposed. I am happy for him and what he has achieved givin his opportunity, but let the man prove himself.

  • kumarms_2000 on April 17, 2011, 1:37 GMT

    well..all these top order bats men may not perform well if thrown at 5th ot 6th down.if so VVSL would have been much better bats men in scoring runs than tendulkar or dravid in test had he given enough chances to bat at 3. i sure am a big fan of him... It definitely will be difficult for this guy paul to come into indian national team but boy sure has got the talent. very level headed. strange that he never really spakred so far.. i hope he is not a one tournament wonder with the way he is playing the shots..cant compare him with Manish pandey for sure... ofcurse he could not have better well with Mumbai or Rajastan if thrown at 5,6 down..he is no michael bevan for sure.... He still needs to improve to match up with likes like Tendulkar or sehwag.. each has their own game.. i wish him good luck...

  • Darshan911 on April 17, 2011, 0:22 GMT

    @Maruthudelft: Why should we drop Shewag out of team. He provided potential strength to our opening stand when India needed the most. His presense gives fear to many bowlers today. I think it's time to get Paul and Shehwag to open innings.

  • on April 16, 2011, 22:38 GMT

    Good Article... Need no Motivation.....

  • on April 16, 2011, 21:43 GMT

    Paul's awesome hitting neutralized the great Dhoni's captaincy!! Wish him all the luck for future.. hope he gets to play under MSD or beyond in national colors.

  • on April 16, 2011, 20:05 GMT

    It isl just be a matter of time that should prove if this guy Valthaty is really meant to be one of the top notch cricketers in India today.Do remember this is just the beginning and yes he has showed that he has that class in him and promises to be a bright prospect but if you remember the name of Manish Pandey who was the first Indian to score a century in IPL, you will know that consistency and hunger for success are the key things that matter.Manish's knock was no doubt a great one but is no more in the first choice team of 11.So let this guy settle down in what he is doing right now and time will prove everything.

  • MaruthuDelft on April 16, 2011, 19:30 GMT

    Certainly a potentially great player has been wasted. Valthaty is able to find boundaries at will. He seems to possess a very balanced head. Unfortunately because of the current Indian batting line up we are not going to see him playing international cricket any time soon. However I hope the stonehead Sehwag will fail in the forthcoming English tour so that Valthaty could sneak in.

  • espncric123 on April 16, 2011, 19:05 GMT

    These are very early days. We only hope that he will keep his feet on ground and perform consistently as he is doing now. Nice to see that his hard work is finally paying off. Looks like a calm and composed cricketer and a very good talent. Hope that men who matters will at least this time recognize and nurture him to next level. Wish you all the luck Pa(u)l.

  • on April 16, 2011, 19:01 GMT

    @AMJAD KHAN: match against deccan he scores 75 nd took 4 wicket amazingly....it's early to said he is fantastic but we can't ignore the way he batted against deccan who have really good bowling line up.all credit to Valathaty .....i just wish him all the best for the next matches.i really like this article.

  • on April 16, 2011, 18:57 GMT

    jst awesome boy... all the best

  • on April 16, 2011, 18:31 GMT

    congrts,now no one can say that inning againts csk was a chance of moment paul proved his capability and performance and seems to be improved day by day

  • cricfangoindia on April 16, 2011, 18:27 GMT

    IPL helps the Indian players to play with the worlds top talents. I say Mr. Valthaty with respect, played a knock against the best club team in the world captained by the best captain. He was chasing a huge total and the pressure was always there. But he stood there tall and bat and bat and bat. One of the greatest knocks in IPL history to bring up the fading Kings11. He will be the most promising Indian batsman on this years edition of IPL. Haters want him to be a one hit wonder, but I will tell you he is batting like Elton John playing a piano. He has skills not to hit six and fours but to bat. He will play great innings, so get your popcorn and enjoy the show. Peace out!.

  • HiyerNHiyer on April 16, 2011, 17:43 GMT

    for all the Sehwag Non believers.. if you feel Shewag is a one match wonder or overrated for that matter then you ought to re-learn your maths and cricket.I heard someone ask how many runs has Sehwag scored in the last 5 ODI innings.. then dont look too far.. the 2011 world cup that just ended will tell u how much he scored and its not the runs that he scores but the mnner in which he pulverises the bowlers that beats daylights out of them. Just one more reality check, any series where Sehwag has scored well in the first Test, India does well.

  • ABP235 on April 16, 2011, 17:16 GMT

    For those who said he is a one match wonder, he has shut your mouths tight with 'Fevicol' today - with a 4 wicket haul and a fifty+ knock and a century stand with the veteran Gilly. however I do agree that media unnecessarily hypes things up without waiting.

  • NP_NY on April 16, 2011, 16:55 GMT

    @DINESHCC: You are obviously not an IPL fan. But you've been proven wrong within two days of you posting your comment, because Valthaty is lighting it up again. Are you going to give us a lecture about 2-hit wonders now? :).

  • DINESHCC on April 15, 2011, 7:35 GMT

    AMJAD KHAN: The players you have mentioned are one match wonders. All the IPL editions have promoted many one match wonders. Among the hitters you omitted another one match wonder MANISH PANDEY. Even in the Indian National team there are many one match wonders. This vallah also soon join in this squad. Tell me frankly in IPL how many players are performing consistently. No one! Ist match 50 or century, 2nd match duck are continuing for the past four years. Please do not praise players one match performance.

  • Praveen-Davidson on April 15, 2011, 7:34 GMT

    This is one of the excellent knock in IPL by an indian domestic cricketer , I really enjoyed thoroughly the entire chasing of the match. He didn;t just slog , he played proper cricket shots also the placement. I don't think that dhoni is disappointed of this lost to CDK , he will immensely impressed with Paul's performance. But the real challenge for him to perform consistently in the coming matches , bottom line -- it is one of the excellent innings without any mad hitting or big sixers .....As some one said in the comment is to keep the head down always like sachin and perform ....

  • no_second_chance_for_batsman on April 15, 2011, 2:39 GMT

    Hi Valthaty -- your great talent is visible. You have a great future...God answers our prayers but he just keeps some hard tests sometimes. As Sandhu jee mentioned 'shot selection' is the key.... so pls keep fit, use the right shot & most important of all...please be down to earth and see that all this hype of media doesn't get to your head...in simple follow sachin's principle...let ur 'bat do the talk' & pls give few more great knocks in this IPL so that once for all ur career is set. Wishing u the very best in life and cricket. cheers, kumar

  • on April 14, 2011, 18:39 GMT

    some fool here has dared to comment abt d master...virender sehwag.whenever someone takes sehwag's name they shld do so with atmost respect and reverence.never has there been a bastman in d 120yr old history of d game who has opened the innings and treated d new ball bowlers with such disdain so as to score at a strike rate of 80 and still average 50+ and score 2 triple hundreds.let no1 take the master's name without knowing what he is.

  • on April 14, 2011, 18:36 GMT

    congrats and do not become a one knock wonder.

  • on April 14, 2011, 13:05 GMT

    the best thing about him that he didn't just stop at 100...he went on and on to finish the game, yes he got beaten at times and played few scratchy shots...but he stayed put and that's what matters in the end...

  • CricketChat on April 14, 2011, 12:57 GMT

    I hope Paul will build on this knock, now that people will start noticing his performances. A Ranji Trophy place is not far away.

  • Andy500265 on April 14, 2011, 11:06 GMT

    If he can keep going like this, he can be sure of a Ranji Trophy call-up.

  • stevedd on April 14, 2011, 10:32 GMT

    Can someone please tell me how many runs did sehwag score in each of his last 5 T20 innings. and how many runs did he score in each of his last 10 ODI's. and then lets see if sehwag or val is a one hit wonder or one innings wonder????

  • on April 14, 2011, 9:41 GMT

    Well Done Val, Keep-it Up! thats what we need consistency we have hitters YK Pathan, Robin Uthappa, Murali Vijay (127 runs from 56 balls IPL Record). IPL gives you platform to showcase your talents and earn rewards, but not with a one-innings stand. We wish you may Keep-It Up! the beat, the rhythm and the flow until you could wish and retire yourself.

  • Immaterial on April 14, 2011, 9:21 GMT

    I hate IPL for many reasons but forget them when it unearths new talents like val..way to go Val..vat :)

  • on April 14, 2011, 9:14 GMT

    Valllah. Stupendous knock!!

  • on April 14, 2011, 9:08 GMT

    this innings is nothing...he has to play consistently in first class cricket before asking for a place in Indian team...surely he has got a lot of talent, he is one player to look out for the future

  • balajiramanujam on April 14, 2011, 7:56 GMT

    Good that Dhoni was at the receiving end of this stupendous knock. I am sure this knock will take him places provided he keeps his head on his shoulders.

  • ms.arjun on April 14, 2011, 7:47 GMT

    Congrats Val. It was amazing to see him bat yesterday. The best part of his innings was the way he pressurized Dhoni constantly. I dont remember anyone do that to him in recent times. But national spotlight is way too far. There are a awful lot of talent before him, likes of Rohit Sharma, Murali Vijay, Dinesh Karthik, Robin Uthappa waiting in line for a place in national T20 team. 50 overs or Test Side is out of question even with Tendulkar and Sehwag out of the way in future. All the players including Gambhir, Raina, Dhoni, Yuvi, Yusuf, Virat, are going to play for another 5 years min. All Val can do is wait in line, and hope to get few games in future, and for that he needs to perform way too consistently. This century alone wont help at all. Sad but true.

  • CSK-FAN on April 14, 2011, 7:41 GMT

    I wish he is not an ONE HIT WONDER. Every shot that came out of his bat was perfect and clearly first class. Though IAM A CSK FAN:Iam amazed

  • him406 on April 14, 2011, 7:34 GMT

    Very well written article. Good to see guys coming up after struggling hard in their lives. Best of luck to paul and Wish he earns many accolades in future too.

  • stevedd on April 14, 2011, 7:32 GMT

    winds and waves are always on the side of the ablest navigators Valthaty!! you stay there and play like you played against CSK and you will find yourself in the T20 world cup in place of sehwag. you have proved you are much much more better than sehwag!! indian selectors are you watching this guy or he needs a sifarish!!

  • on April 14, 2011, 6:46 GMT

    I believe this player is an avatar of THOR ............. shatter everything that comes through his way ...boom bam boom

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  • on April 14, 2011, 6:46 GMT

    I believe this player is an avatar of THOR ............. shatter everything that comes through his way ...boom bam boom

  • stevedd on April 14, 2011, 7:32 GMT

    winds and waves are always on the side of the ablest navigators Valthaty!! you stay there and play like you played against CSK and you will find yourself in the T20 world cup in place of sehwag. you have proved you are much much more better than sehwag!! indian selectors are you watching this guy or he needs a sifarish!!

  • him406 on April 14, 2011, 7:34 GMT

    Very well written article. Good to see guys coming up after struggling hard in their lives. Best of luck to paul and Wish he earns many accolades in future too.

  • CSK-FAN on April 14, 2011, 7:41 GMT

    I wish he is not an ONE HIT WONDER. Every shot that came out of his bat was perfect and clearly first class. Though IAM A CSK FAN:Iam amazed

  • ms.arjun on April 14, 2011, 7:47 GMT

    Congrats Val. It was amazing to see him bat yesterday. The best part of his innings was the way he pressurized Dhoni constantly. I dont remember anyone do that to him in recent times. But national spotlight is way too far. There are a awful lot of talent before him, likes of Rohit Sharma, Murali Vijay, Dinesh Karthik, Robin Uthappa waiting in line for a place in national T20 team. 50 overs or Test Side is out of question even with Tendulkar and Sehwag out of the way in future. All the players including Gambhir, Raina, Dhoni, Yuvi, Yusuf, Virat, are going to play for another 5 years min. All Val can do is wait in line, and hope to get few games in future, and for that he needs to perform way too consistently. This century alone wont help at all. Sad but true.

  • balajiramanujam on April 14, 2011, 7:56 GMT

    Good that Dhoni was at the receiving end of this stupendous knock. I am sure this knock will take him places provided he keeps his head on his shoulders.

  • on April 14, 2011, 9:08 GMT

    this innings is nothing...he has to play consistently in first class cricket before asking for a place in Indian team...surely he has got a lot of talent, he is one player to look out for the future

  • on April 14, 2011, 9:14 GMT

    Valllah. Stupendous knock!!

  • Immaterial on April 14, 2011, 9:21 GMT

    I hate IPL for many reasons but forget them when it unearths new talents like val..way to go Val..vat :)

  • on April 14, 2011, 9:41 GMT

    Well Done Val, Keep-it Up! thats what we need consistency we have hitters YK Pathan, Robin Uthappa, Murali Vijay (127 runs from 56 balls IPL Record). IPL gives you platform to showcase your talents and earn rewards, but not with a one-innings stand. We wish you may Keep-It Up! the beat, the rhythm and the flow until you could wish and retire yourself.