Praise rolled in thick and fast for Paul Valthaty after the talented 25-year-old hammered the third highest score in the history of the Indian Premier League to carry the Kings XI Punjab to an upset win over Chennai on Wednesday.
The young right-hander cranked 19 fours – a tournament record – and two sixes across his 120 not out from just 63 balls as the hosts pipped the defending champions to the post with five balls to spare.
A daunting 189-run pursuit in the wake of whirlwind half-centuries from Subramaniam Badrinath and Murali Vijay was promptly watered down by Valthaty’s heroics, with complementary knocks from Sunny Singh and Dinesh Karthik aiding the centurion’s quest for victory.
As crucial as Singh and Karthik’s combined 41 runs from 22 balls were, they paled in comparison to the mature opener’s blitzkrieg, which had Chennai seamers and slow bowlers alike chasing leather to all corners of the Punjab Cricket Association Stadium.
Triumphant skipper Adam Gilchrist, who enjoyed a 61-run opening stand inside six overs alongside the Man of the Match, heralded the whirlwind century as an “amazing innings.”
“Paul hit some nice shots in the first match but unfortunately got out. He showed some talent in the warm-up games. I loved standing around and watching Paul go. I hope to see [former Sri Lanka and Mumbai big-hitter] Sanath Jayasuriya dancing. He said he will dance if we win,” enthused Gilchrist.
Karthik put on an unbroken 57-run partnership at a rate of 11.40 to the over with Valthaty and, after sealing the result with a fat six heaved over long-on, was quick to laud his partner’s sensational individualism.
“The way one individual stood up was great, and the whole team backed him. The way he batted, a lot of legends would have been proud of that innings,’ he enthused.
Wicketkeeper-batsman Karthik revealed that Valthaty had usurped Shaun Marsh to open the batting with Gilchrist, with the move ultimately reaping great dividends for the Mohali-bred franchise.
“Even last game we thought of opening with him, but last minute we thought of Marsh. For this match we decided it was Valthaty,” added Karthik.
Humble in defeat, Super Kings skipper Mahendra Dhoni, who earlier in the day weighed in with a quickfire knock of 43 runs from 20 balls, paid tribute to his fellow Indian.
“Paul batted really well. He was at his best. A challenge was thrown at him and he was up to it. He went on until the end, which is very important. He did not leave it for others,” said Dhoni.
Valthaty surpassed Kolkata Knight Riders’ recruit Jacques Kallis as the 2011 tournament’s top run-scorer during his three-figure haul, which he admitted was helped by the nature of the pitch.
“It was a belter of a track, it really was a belter. It was a dream come true for me. The team management backed me, and it came off. I had started preparing for the IPL two months in advance and it paid off. Getting a 100 meant a lot to me,” he concluded. Cricket365