Have you noticed the word written on the Indian T20 League trophy?
‘Yatra Pratibha Avsara Prapnotihi’
This Sanskrit phrase signifies the actual vision of this tournament. If we translate it, we find, “Where talent meets opportunity”. It means if you have talent, you will get the opportunity and the Indian T20 League is the platform to showcase your talent.
In 2009, defending champions Rajasthan added a new Mumbai-based player at the price of Rs. 80 lakh but released him after one season, and in 2011, Punjab showed their interest on him with the price of 2 Cr. Indian T20 League is the tournament that changes the life of a player and this tournament has given us some big stars who steal the show on the international level.
In the late 1990s, Mumbai was the big hub for young cricketers. After winning the world cup in 1983, we found inspiration in our cricketing stars. Mumbai developed stadiums and local people took interest in cricket. We later won the world series after beating Pakistan in the final and in 1989, Sachin made his debut in international cricket. Mumbai was ruling the Ranji trophy and cricket was part of Mumbai’s school curriculum. A teenager named Paul Valthaty found his inspiration in Mumbai’s cricketing stars and got the Indian shirt when he was selected into Under-19 World Cup 2002. He played alongside Irfan Pathan and Parthiv Patel. India lost to South Africa in the semifinals but Paul got his experience from there.
He continued performing for Mumbai and his some quality performances helped him to take a contract in Indian T20 League. Punjab bought him in 2011 and Paul recently celebrated India’s World Cup success when Dhoni’s six helped India to end their title drought of 28 years.
Paul Valthaty was playing under Adam Gilchrist, alongside some big overseas stars like Shaun Marsh and David Miller. Chennai was the defending champions and Dhoni was the skipper who recently tasted success with a World Cup win at Wankhede. In Indian T20 League, you need one good game to catch all the attention and Paul Valthaty was introduced in front of the world when he smashed a match-winning hundred against Chennai. Punjab chased down 189 in 19.1 overs against a formidable attack of Chennai. He scored 120 runs off 63 balls (19 fours and 2 sixes) and went on to score 463 runs at the strike rate of 136.98. After the season 2011, we Indians believed that we got a star who can give us world cup glory in T20 format. Valthaty’s other skill was his bowling. He was a complete all-round package and Punjab also looked a star in him so they retained him in the next two seasons as well.
Apart from this, the story was moving in a different direction. An unfortunate thing happened in his career. A talent arrived in style at the world stage but before achieving more glory it faded out early. After the 2011 Indian T20 League season, Paul developed a ganglion (lump in the wrist) which made him out of his favourite game. He was unable to pick up his bat due to the pain in his wrist.
He made his first-class debut in 2011-12 and also played for Himachal Pradesh. The injury made him suffer after 2011 but he tried hard to find a comeback. In season 2012, Paul scored just 30 in six outings, and in 2013, he got just one match in which he managed to get only 6. Paul went unsold in Indian T20 League 2014 after his injury concern and his inconsistent performances. Valthaty still hold few records in Indian T20 League which are unbroken even in 2021. He holds the record of highest score by an Indian uncapped player in the Indian T20 League. He has the record of highest individual score in a chase. He scored 19 fours in his innings which is the joint record of most fours in a single inning.
Paul Valthaty is now an Air India employee but you can’t take cricket from a talented player. Paul played club cricket and even scored lot of runs in the Mumbai T20 League. Valthaty even represented Air India in domestic tournaments. He also coaches aspiring cricketers at Mumbai’s Homeground Cricket Academy. His passion is big and we can take an idea from his current status as Paul Valthaty is now preparing for a Ranji Trophy comeback at the age of 37. He has a daughter, Aradhna, from his long-time girlfriend Caroll with whom he got married in 2013.
Stories are everywhere and some stories have a tragic end. Sports will offer you lots of stories and injury has hurt so many promising talents. South African star Mark Boutcher announced retirement due to an eye injury. The same happened with English wicket-keeper Matt Prior. They were in top-class form and could have finished their career on high. Phill Hughes’ story is more tragic who was a future star of Australian cricket but one ball hit his head and he lost his life so early.
Valthaty’s story ended in 2014 for us when he went unsold in the auction but his actual story started with the injury. He took his injury as the hurdle and fought like a warrior. After taking the job, he didn’t leave his passion for cricket. He played for clubs and enjoyed every moment of it. You can find tons of such stories in England where players spend their entire career for county clubs. Paul is looking for Ranji's comeback after BCCI announced new teams in the domestic level. His fighting spirit is extraordinary and left a big value for aspiring cricketers. Sportsperson faces such issues in their daily lives but how they step up, tells us the inspiring stories. I would cheer Paul when he will be back in Ranji Trophy to live his game with a beautiful smile.