One of the frontrunners to win the Orange Cap this IPL season, Kings XI Punjab's opener Paul Valthaty said getting a compliment from his idol Sachin Tendulkar was the biggest achievement for him.
One of the revelations of the IPL 4, Valthaty has so far scored 458 runs in 13 matches. Only his teammate Australia's Shaun Marsh (491) is ahead of him in the leading run-scorers' chart, while Mumbai Indians skipper Tendulkar sits on sixth position with 408 runs from 12 matches.
"I think either Gayle (Chris) or Malinga (Lasith) will get the player of the tournament award but I am happy with my own performance. To get a compliment from none other than Sachin Tendulkar, whom I idolise, is the biggest award for me," Valthaty told PTI Bhasha.
"Sachin and Mathew Hayden have been my idol. Sachin briefly spoke to me after a match in Mumbai. He congratulated me for my batting. I can't forget the moment. It has been the high point of my career, my biggest award," said the Mumbaikar.
A top-order batsman who occasionally bowls medium-pace, Valthaty shot into the limelight with a blistering century (120 off 63 balls) against Chennai Super Kings.
Valthaty, who has dominated all the opposition bowlers in this season, rates West Indies great Viv Richards and dashing Indian opener Virender Sehwag as the most explosive batsmen in world cricket.
"There is nobody near Richards as far as power hitting is concerned. Similarly, I think Sehwag is the best in current lot of cricketers. I have watched their batting but I don't try to copy them. It is difficult to do so. They have their own style and I have my own," he said.
IPL 4 has been a sort of comeback for him. He made it to India's under-19 squad for the 2002 World Cup in New Zealand with the likes of Irfan Pathan and Parthiv Patel where an injury to his eye in the game against Bangladesh halted his development.
He couldn't make the breakthrough into senior cricket for years, and got just one opportunity for Mumbai, a one-dayer in 2006.
There was no high-profile cricket for him for another few years, till Rajasthan Royals punted on him in the 2009 season, where he played a couple of matches. That earned him a place in Mumbai's Twenty20 side, and he turned in a few powerful performances for them, which led to a contract with Kings XI Punjab in 2011.
"It's a nice platform to showcase my talent. I am happy that I have been able to make a comeback after what has happened in the past," said the 27-year-old.
Valthaty gives his captain Adam Gilchrist much of the credit for his success. "Gilly has been a huge inspiration. I have been watching him since childhood. He makes it easy for me while batting. He always encourages me to play my natural game," he said.
Vathaty, however, refused to draw any comparison between Gilchrist and Rajasthan Royals captain Shane Warne.
"Both are legends and inspirational captains. It is not possible to make a comparison. They lead from the front and players get much needed support from them."
Like any other cricketer, his aim is also to play for the country and Valthaty is waiting for his future call. "I hope that with this IPL stint I have made a progress. My ultimate aim is to play for India but that is not in my hand. I am doing my job and trying to utilise every chance I get," he said.