He burst into the limelight with his heroics in the last edition of the Indian Premier League and Kings XI Punjab batsman Paul Valthaty said he will leave no stones unturned to turn on the heat on his rivals in IPL V which begins at Chennai on April 6.
Valthaty was an unknown face before IPL 4, but he became an overnight star after his heroics in the T20 league where he scored 463 runs in 14 matches at a strike rate of 136.9 and the 28-year-old cricketer said he will try to repeat his performance this year too.
"Naturally there will be more pressure this year. I have self belief and confidence that I will be able to handle that. In fact last year also when I scored a century against Chennai Super Kings in initial stage of the tournament, the expectations of my team and fans rose suddenly and I handled that pretty well," he said.
"I have worked very hard this time. I am prepared well but I am not complecent at all. It is a new season and I have to start afresh."
The Mumbaikar said he wants to demonstrate his batting skills and take his team to semi finals.
"It's not about big hitting alone. There is scope of playing good cricketing shots during IPL as well and I am capable of doing that. My focus will be to play good knocks and our first target is semifinals. After that the contest will be wide open for every team," he said. Desperate to play for India, Valthaty also feels that IPL is a huge platform for youngsters like him to catch the attention of the selectors.
"Like every Indian cricketer, my dream is also to play for my country which has eluded me so far. IPL is a huge platform and I will do my best here. Selection is not in my hands but I will try to attract selectors attention," he said.
Last year, Valthaty also changed his Ranji team and chose Himachal Pradesh over Mumbai which he said was a very tough decision to make.
"After performing well in IPL, I wanted to play for a team where I can play full first class season. I left Mumbai and chose HP which was a tough decision. Unfortunately the wrist injury happened and I could not play the whole season. But that is past now. I am fully fit and hungry to score yet again," he said.
For him, having Adam Gilchrist as a captain is like a blessing and Valthaty said he owed most of his success to the Australian coach-cum-captain.
"Gilly is a terrific captain and mentor. He knows how to get the best from his team. I have learnt a lot from him. I am lucky that two prolific big hitters of IPL Gilly and Shaun Marsh are in my team. My other favourite is Chris Gayle," he said.
Photograph: Siphiwe Sibeko/ REUTERS