Barinder Saluja, Chandigarh/Mohali,April 13 : “Baisakhi has come as a real festival for us”, said jubillant Preeti Zinta after Kings XI Punjab registered their first win of the IPL T-20 this season. The stadium at PCA Mohali was Jam Pack today also as it was on the Ind-Pak Semi final world cup match. And the cricket lovers witnessed the best of T-20 encounters for which they had come to see.
Little known Mumbaikar Paul Valthaty stole the limelight with a blistering unbeaten 120 off only 63 deliveries as last year’s wooden spooners Kings XI Punjab caused the first upset of the fourth edition of IPL with a six wicket victory over defending champions Chennai Super Kings.
Valthaty who has no first-class experience and till date has played only one List A match for Mumbai way back in 2006 hit 19 boundaries and two sixes as KXIP chased an improbable 189 needed for victory with five balls to spare.Earlier, Adam Gilchrist elected to field and CSK made 188 for four courtesy a smashing 74 off only 43 balls by opener Murali Vijay and an useful 66 by S Badrinath and skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni’s little cameo that fetched him 43 off only 20 balls.
The day however belonged to 27-year old Valthaty who had played for India colts during the early part of 2002 before an eye injury kept him out of cricket. Having played a couple of matches for Rajasthan Royals in an earlier edition with scant success, Valthaty has certainly shot into limelight like the lesser known players like Manish Pandey, Swapnil Asnodkar, Manpreet Singh Gony had done in the earlier editions.
His century came off only 52 deliveries and it was an exhibition of clean hitting. Everything came from the meat of the blade. Also he showed that he can play the pull-shot to good effect when Tim Southee banged one short.
Valthaty, who had featured in just 12 T20s before with a highest score of 70, made a difficult total look easy to achieve. The Indian captain used as many as seven bowlers to defend the total, but Valthaty ensured that he stayed till the end to accomplish the target. Chennai bowlers including off spinner R Ashwin, Sri Lankan spinner Suraj Randiv, medium pacers Tim Southee and Albie Morkel came in for some harsh treatment from the batsman who hit a flurry off boundaries in the initial overs as his skipper Adam Gilchrist was a mere spectator at the other end.