Greater laurels await Valthaty and Rayudu
Ten days into IPL IV, everybody has got on the points table and no team has remained unbeaten. This was always going to be the case, given the reorganisation of teams after the auction earlier in the year, but what has been most pleasing for me is to see so many different young men making a strong case for themselves. Anil Kumble writes.cricket Updated: Apr 19, 2011 00:33 IST
Ten days into IPL IV, everybody has got on the points table and no team has remained unbeaten. This was always going to be the case, given the reorganisation of teams after the auction earlier in the year, but what has been most pleasing for me is to see so many different young men making a strong case for themselves.
By young, I don't mean young in terms of age but in terms of experience and exposure to top-flight cricket. No one has shone brighter than Paul Valthaty, easily the star of the tournament after his brilliant performances with the bat and the ball.
Valthaty is superb
His century against the Chennai Super Kings was an outstanding effort under tremendous pressure given that Kings XI Punjab needed almost 190 runs for victory. But what was more impressive was the way he followed it up with another sterling knock in the next match.
With his superbly crafted innings against Deccan Chargers, Valthaty showed that he is not a one-match wonder. Sometimes, the most difficult thing is to stay in the present. After his century against the defending champions, there was this buzz around Valthaty. His name was on every lip, and newspapers and television channels predictably went to town.
It would have been easy for someone not used to all this adulation and attention to get carried away. What has been impressive is that Valthaty has remained unaffected. His match-winning all-round effort in Hyderabad suggests that he has got a very balanced and mature head on his shoulders.
Valthaty is 27, an age when batsmen in India have already made a strong case for themselves. In that sense, he is something of a late bloomer, but he has suddenly caught the eye and could well be here to stay, at least in the limited-over format. He and Ambati Rayudu have been the most impressive of the Indian batsmen who haven't played for the country in this year's IPL so far. If they continue to build on their earlier successes and remain focussed and consistent, I won't be surprised if greater laurels lie ahead of them.
I was also happy with the way Lakshmipathy Balaji bowled on Sunday night. Bala showed great promise and potential when he made his international debut more than eight years back, but he has been extremely unfortunate with injuries. There was a time when everyone thought he was lost to cricket forever, but through sheer diligence and determination, he has worked his way back.
He has had to remodel his action and has lost a fair bit of pace, but he is a very crafty, cunning bowler who calls on his experience quite admirably. He is a shining example of what grit can do. The odds were completely stacked against him not so long back. To bounce back in the way he has done, is a great credit to his character.
I am sure the Royal Challengers fans are disappointed at the three consecutive losses, but Twenty20 cricket is a very funny game where things can change extremely quickly. One or two victories can turn fortunes around, and that's precisely what Dan Vettori and his boys will be thinking going into Tuesday's match at home against Rajasthan Royals.