Mohali, Apr 13: Little known Paul Valthaty today stole the limelight with a blistering 63-ball 120 in Kings XI Punjab's stunning six-wicket win over title holders Chennai Super Kings here and the Maharashtra batsman said going into bat he was never overawed by the reputation of rival bowlers.
Chasing CSK's mammoth 188 for four in their second Indian Premier League match, Kings XI rode on Valthaty's unbeaten knock to overwhelm the target with five balls to spare.
“I was not overawed by the reputation of Chennai bowlers. I batted to my strength and 189 was always on my mind,” said the 27-year-old right hander, who played just one one-dayer for Mumbai in 2006.
Kings XI's today promoted Valthaty up the order and he said it was a deliberate move as the team had sensed that Chennai would open their attack with a spinner.
As expected, CSK skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni opened the attack with off-spinner R Ashwin.
Valthaty studded his innings with as many as 19 boundaries and two sixes against a strong CSK bowling attack, comprising Ashwin, Suraj Randiv and pace duo of Tim Southee and Albie Morkel.
“I batted to my strengths. I have always been an attacking batsman. We knew they would start with Ashwin and that was the idea of sending me up the order. My basic role was to go after the spinner and with Gilchrist at the other end, we had got 50 in five overs,” he said.
“I had nothing to lose. If at that stage I start thinking about who was around me, it would have been difficult,” added Valthaty, who played just two matches for Rajasthan Royals in the 2009 IPL in South Africa.
Valthaty, who had featured in just 12 Twenty20 matches before with a highest score of 70, played a cameo innings to being Kings XI back on winning ways after the loss to debutante Pune Warriors in their tournament-opener.
Confessing that his herculean knock was yet to sink in, Valthatay said that even Dhoni had praised him for his effort.
Asked if at any stage he thought the game could slip out of Kings XI's hand, he said, “T20 is so fast game that it does not give you much time to think about those things. It was one of those days when everything went according to our plans.”
For those who are not familiar with Valthaty, he had a nondescript career till then, since making his way up the levels of age group cricket in Mumbai during the late 1990s.
He made it to India's Under-19 World Cup in 2002 with the likes of Irfan Pathan and Parthiv Patel.
But after that an eye injury while playing in New Zealand almost jeopardised Valthaty's career, keeping him out of cricket two-three years before he was picked up by Rajasthan.
Valthaty thanked the Kings XI team management for believing in him and giving him the opportunity to showcase his potential.
Kings XI coach Michael Bevan also heaped praise on the youngster for sterling display.
“He (Valthaty) played a high quality knock, an amazing knock. We really needed such a knock. His placement, power was terrific. He is a talented batsman, who strikes the ball beautifully,” Bevan said.
He said Valthaty was a quiet character and reserved person, who likes to keep to himself, but was a good human being.
Bevan said that they had thought of restricting CSK to somewhere between 160-170 runs on a good Mohali wicket which was full of runs.
Meanwhile, CSK coach Stephen Fleming could not hide but praise Valthaty's effort, who according to him single-handedly won the match for Kings XI.
“It is disappointing when you lose. But credit should be given to the young fellow (Valthaty) and it was a delight to watch him bat that way,” said the former New Zealand captain.
Fleming, however, said that today's loss will not affect the team's morale.
“The nature of the IPL is such that it tends to throw up talent about whom one has not heard much before,” he said.
Fleming conceded that CSK bowlers were not able to put additional on Kings XI batsmen after posting a challenging total on the board. PTI