He is being touted as the 'find' of IPL 4 and many reckon an India cap is his for the taking sooner rather than later. But Kings XI Punjab opening batsman Paul Valthaty is not getting carried away by all this talk. Contrary to his slam bang approach to the shortest version of the game, the 27-year-old Air-India employee adopts a systematic approach to life.
"I'm just living in the moment. I'm glad that I've been able to put in a few good performances for my IPL team, but that's it. I'm not thinking even beyond the next match," Valthaty said on Thursday.
The hard-hitting right-handed batsman shot to fame with a blistering 120 off 63 balls against the Chennai Super Kings earlier in the tournament. A string of good knocks thereafter have made him a big contender for the Orange Cap, awarded to the highest scorer of the tournament. Valthaty currently aggregates 458 runs in 13 matches, second only to teammate Shaun Marsh (491). But even that's not on his mind. "I just want to go out there and play my natural game and if the runs come, it's good for me and the team. I'm not gunning for the Orange Cap," he said.
Valthaty's composure probably stems from a couple of tough lessons life taught him early on. Considered one of the bigger hitters across Mumbai's maidans in his younger days, Valthaty was on the verge of earning his Ranji cap when he dislocated his shoulder in 2001. Then a year later he was picked for India's New Zealand-bound U-19 2002 World Cup squad. But here too fate played a cruel joke on him as an eye injury in the match against Bangladesh forced him to return home mid-way through the tournament.
This is probably why while many are considering him to earn his maiden India cap soon, Valthaty's thoughts are far from that. "I'm not even thinking about the India cap right now, though obviously that is my dream. But I realise that my good performances in the IPL alone are not enough. I plan to take a break after the IPL and then work hard to try and break into the Mumbai Ranji Trophy team. I want to do well in the Ranji Trophy and take it from there," said the Borivali boy.
Kings XI Punjab find themselves in a difficult position as even a win in their last league match against Deccan Chargers on Saturday may not be enough to take them into the play offs as Kolkata Knight Riders, whom they are aiming to replace in fourth place, have a game a hand.
But Valthaty is again not thinking too far ahead. "When we entered the last phase of the IPL, the plan was to win the five out of the last five matches. We have won four so far (beating Mumbai Indians, Kochi Tuskers Kerala, Delhi Daredevils and Royal Challengers Bangalore on the trot), so the focus is now on beating Deccan Chargers tomorrow," he signed off.