This Shahrukh Khan too aims to carve identity of his own

Named after a Bollywood icon, drawing attention was no big deal for Tamil Nadu cricketer M Shahrukh Khan but what fetched him an IPL contract worth Rs 5.25 crore was purely his big-hitting prowess that he displayed during the recent Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy.

The 25-year old Tamil Nadu all-rounder had a base price of Rs 20 lakh but Punjab Kings very happily shelled out a huge sum to secure his services after a fierce bidding on Thursday.

Khan hit unbeaten 40 off 19 balls in the quarter-final match against Himachal Pradesh and scored an unbeaten 18 off seven deliveries in the final in which Tamil Nadu defeated Baroda to win the title.

“I think I have that naturally [the ability to hit big] because I am heavily-built and I have the power to muscle the ball. I have been working on it and trying to improve on that as well,” said Khan. “I started playing from around under-13 days and as and when I got through the ranks I knew that I could make a career out of cricket. I got a lot of runs in my age-group category. That helped me and motivated me to try and excel at the next level.”

After his blistering 49 off 19 balls took TN past Himachal Pradesh in the quarterfinal from a tricky situation, his 7-ball 18 helped the team seal the title against Baroda.

He then attended trials with Rajasthan Royals, Kolkata Knight Riders and the Punjab franchise and it’s clear he did make an impression.

“This year I had no expectations. To be frank I had nothing in my mind (about the auction). People were taking about the chances of me getting an IPL contract but I did not pay too much attention to it,” he said.

“It has been the springboard for many cricketers to move on and play for the country,” the TN batsman, who admires New Zealand captain Kane Williamson for on his on-field style, said. The Chennai lad is a multi-dimensional player. He can bowl off-spin, fast and is a very agile fielder.

“I used to bowl off-spin when I was younger. But I have been bowling fast for around two years. I will be bowling fast,” says the player who has represented Tamil Nadu in five first-class games, 20 one-dayers, and 31 domestic T20s.

“My mom’s sister was a big fan of actor Shahrukh Khan, so they named me after him,” Shahrukh said on Thursday.

R Venkatesh, a current senior Tamil Nadu selector, and the one who coached him in his initial years from the age of about 10 to 15 says Khan was a very good all-rounder from a very young age.

Khan’s father also played in lower division cricket, so the younger Khan has the pedigree, too. Shahrukh, who made his first-class debut in 2018 after having played for the state in List A and T20s in 2014, rose through the ranks. He was a star in school cricket in Chennai and featured in the competitive TNCA League aged 13. “But the stepping up to the next level, playing for Tamil Nadu was a different challenge,” he said.

After his efforts in the TNPL, he came back in the Tamil Nadu team and has made his mark as a finisher in the last two seasons. “I was aware that I had to keep working on my role. Being a finisher meant one has to keep improving skills because a batsman can get found out soon. I have worked on my skills and focussed on hitting areas. There are still areas to improve, am just aiming to improving each day,” he added. He also said his trainer Azhariah Prabhakar, with whom he has worked since the age of 15, had helped him get stronger, both physically and mentally.