Success does not come easy. However, the means are worth the result. Paul Valthaty's 15-year cricket odyssey finally bore fruit on Wednesday, and how.
The 27-year-old Mumbai batsman's hurricane century for the Kings XI Punjab against the Chennai Super Kings was just reward for a lifetime of hard work. No one knows this better than former India great Dilip Vengsarkar - in whose academy Valthaty made his first foray into the sport.
Speaking to HT, Vengsarkar said, "I first saw him as a 12-year-old when he joined the academy. He displayed great promise and scored heavily for the academy in local matches."
After an exceptional junior career, Valthaty was picked for the India U-19 squad that went to New Zealand for the 2002 World Cup, alongside the likes of Parthiv Patel and Irfan Pathan.
However, during a U-19 tour to Bangladesh, Valthaty suffered an injury that veered his career off track. "He got hit under the eye. Although the injury wasn't career-threatening, he lost momentum. After that, he joined Air India and I lost track," said Vengsarkar.
All-rounder While he always displayed great potential with the willow, he was just as comfortable gripping a pen.
"His mother (a doctor) ensured he never neglected his studies," said Jayesh Dadarkar, his sports instructor at Don Bosco, Borivali.
Valthaty showed a host of strokes during his 63-ball 120 not out as he struck 19 fours and 2 sixes on Wednesday.
This wasn't the first time he turned into a one-man army.
Years ago, on a rainy day at the Azad Maidan, Valthaty showed the kind of talent that sent the packed PCA Stadium at Mohali into a tizzy. "We were playing a 20-over match against Rizvi Boys, who had a stronger team. They scored 84.
"Paul showed temperament beyond his years to compile a 66. However, our team folded for 76. He was the last man out," said Dadarkar.
On Wednesday, again none of the other batsman did much damage, but on this occasion Valthaty's one-man effort did not go in vain. Vindication.