Preity Zinta, owner of PUNJAB KINGS, leaned back in his chair, looked at the Kolkata Knight Riders table and let out a triumphant cry: “We have Shahrukh”. On KKR’s table was Aryan, the son of Bollywood superstar Shah Rukh Khan. On Thursday, Zinta’s team pocketed Tamil Nadu’s mid-tier batsman, M Shahrukh Khan, for Rs 5.25 crore. And that became the story of the 2021 IPL auction, once again sparking Bollywood meets cricket, and Veer meets Zara, social media references.
Meanwhile, away from the auction venue in Chennai, Shahrukh Khan, the cricketer, was on a bus in Indore with his Tamil Nadu teammates after the auction by telephone. KKR star and TN captain Dinesh Karthik would later tweet a video that captured the excitement of the offer which skyrocketed from Rs 20 lakh to Rs 5.25 crore.
The clip has an embarrassed IPL newbie giving a reluctant smile as shouts and applause greet each new offering. On a day when South African all-rounder Chris Morris became the costliest IPL cricketer of all time with Rajasthan Royals signing him for Rs 16.25, Shahrukh was by far the most wanted newbie.
Talk to The Indian Express, the 25-year-old is amused by the SRK connection but admits he’s a die-hard Rajinikant fan, watching the superstar Basha movie on repeat. It also minimizes the hype around its price tag. “The chance to play with KL Rahul and Coach Anil Kumble and have the opportunity to play a tournament like the IPL is something that excites me. Money is secondary, ”he says.
IPL watchers may be surprised at Shahrukh’s award, but those who follow domestic cricket saw it coming. In his nascent first-class career, Shahrukh has demonstrated his ability to be a reliable finisher, the T20’s kind of MVP.
The 6ft 4in heavy hitter is that rare Indian player who has the temperament and skills to take his team across the line in close games. The scramble to buy him proves he’s a rarity in a tournament where most teams depend on foreign players to seal matches. At last month’s T20 national tournament, the Syed Mushtaq Trophy, Shahrukh scored an unbeaten 19-ball 40 to win the match for Tamil Nadu.
– DK (inDineshKarthik) February 18, 2021
When asked what motivates him in a tense lawsuit, Shahrukh casually replies, “It’s just the harsh word that paid off. When it comes to big hits, I think I’m naturally good at it.
Growing up in Velachery, a bustling commercial and residential area in southern Chennai, Shahrukh had his fill of tennis-ball cricket before moving on to age group games.
Despite the first highs, he had to wait four years before consolidating his place in the Ranji Trophy of Tamil Nadu and the limited teams. “We chose him purely on his natural abilities during the 2014-15 season. Back then, the TN team was packed with superstars in their prime – Dinesh Karthik, Murali Vijay, Abhinav Mukund, Subramanian Badrinath. So there was no place ready for use. He was in the reserve for four years before finally making his debut in 2018, ”said Sharath TN, former Tamil Nadu selector.
These four marginal years have been difficult. After racking up over 600 races in the Cooch Behar Trophy in preparation for the 2014 Under-19 World Cup in UAE 2014, he expected a call for the ICC flagship event. “I was working really hard during that time. But if you’re benched for four seasons in a row, it starts playing in your mind. When I failed to make the U-19 World Cup squad, it broke my confidence, ”he says.
Masood, the father of Shahrukh, a former club cricketer, works in the leather business while his mother Lubna runs a shop in Chennai. He says it was his parents and personal trainer Azhariah Prabhakar who gave him the confidence to continue. “Azariah has played a key role in my development as a cricketer,” he says.
In fact, Shahrukh expected an IPL call last season. He had even attended a trial of the Indians in Mumbai, but had drawn a blank. To make matters worse, he injured his finger.
As Sharath says, good things happen to those who remain patient and work hard. “He’s been playing the waiting game for too long. First, to consolidate his place in the Tamil Nadu team and now in the IPL. He deserves it. I hope he takes this opportunity, ”he said.
Shahrukh, however, has his hands full. The IPL is still over two months away. Before that, he will have to play an essential role for his state in the Vijay Hazare Trophy for which the team are currently in Indore.
But then, with Thursday’s auction, this Shahrukh Khan has already scored a box office success.