Chandigarh: Everything Paul Valthaty is trying his hand at seems to be coming off nicely at the moment, but the "man of few words" is determined not to let the sudden success go to his head.
"I take each game as it comes. My dream has not been fulfilled yet, here is still a long way to go," he said.
From being a relatively unknown cricketer, two back-to-back match-winning performances against Chennai Super Kings and Deccan Chargers in the ongoing Indian Premier League (IPL) have catapulted Valthaty to the spotlight.
"I am not thinking too ahead and not thinking too much in the past as well. It's a long tournament and we will need to play well," Valthaty said. According to his father Chandrashekar, the 27-year-old has been a fighter to the core all his life.
"He is a man of few words, I would not say reserved, but an assertive man who likes to keep it to himself. But he is a fighter and very determined to achieve what he wants to,". Originally from Andhra Pradesh, Valthaty Sr has been settled in Mumbai for decades now. The cricketer comes from a family of doctors.
Though his father is an engineer, Paul's mother Chandrawati is a doctor and so are his three elder sisters, who are married and settled in United States, London and Sharjah.
Chandrashekar revealed that his son was so fascinated by the legendary Kapil Dev that he wanted to become a bowler like him one day. "As a 5-year-old, he used to imitate his action and I used to tell him then that Kapil is a tall, strong fellow and you are short and thin, how can you become like him," he said about his son who also idolises Sachin Tendulkar.
Valthaty has no first-class experience and till date has played only one List A match for Mumbai way back in 2006 and also featured in the Rajasthan Royals team earlier, for whom he failed to impress. "I was keen that he should become a cricketer.
In 1994-95, there was a summer camp held in Mumbai to select promising players from a group of 500-600 boys. After that Paul made his first foray in (former India great) Dilip Vengsarkar's academy in Mumbai. When I took him to Vengsarkar, he told me that he saw a spark in this boy and should be given a chance," Chandrashekar said.
Soon after joining Vengsarkar's academy, he was asked to open in a match, in which he made 197. Chandrashekar said even the likes of Nari Contractor, Dilip Sardesai, Jayanti Lal and coach at Vengsarkar's academy,Balwinder Singh Sandhu, had praised his son for his talent.
Valthaty studied at Don Bosco school in Borivali, Mumbai. Former India all-rounder Ravi Shastri too studied at the same school, but in a different wing - Matunga. "The principal of the school once told Paul that Ravi Shastri played for India and one day he too would play for the country," he said. At the school, Valthaty participated in football and table tennis tournaments as well.
Valthaty's first break came when he was picked for the 2002 under-19 World Cup in New Zealand along with Irfan Pathan and Parthiv Patel.
But, in the match against Bangladesh, he was unfortunate to have sustained an eye injury, which kept him out of action for over a year.
"Paul has always got full support of the family. I always had this gut feeling that he would one day play international cricket. I once told him that he should concentrate on the sport and not worry about whether he can make it or not. Then he got picked up by Air India," he said.
Throwing light on Valthaty's steely resolve to fight against all odds, his father said that he was told to take one step at a time and keep his feet firmly on ground. "For hours he used to practice the square cut in front of
the mirror to check at what height he should swing the bat." Batting aside, Valthaty likes to listen to music and also enjoy knocking and oiling his bats.