M Shahrukh Khan has been the hero of Tamil Nadu in 2021, from his last-ball six to assist Tamil Nadu retain the Syed Mushtaq Ali T20 last month to consistent efforts with the bat at the just completed Vijay Hazare Trophy. He’ll be a sought-after player in the upcoming IPL auctions, too, because to his ability to clear the fence with ease and maintain a cool head under pressure. The fact that Punjab Kings decided not keep him came as a shock to everyone.
In an interview with TOI, the 26-year-old discussed the job of a finisher, his experiences in the IPL, and more. Excerpts:
What are your expectations for the IPL auctions next year, given your success in the white-ball formats this season?
It’s evident that it’s lurking in the recesses of my thoughts. Having said that, I’m not really concerned about what will occur (at the auctions). At the moment, I’m solely focused on Ranji Trophy preparations because I want to help my team win.
It all comes down to the method. By process, I mean that the preparations (for a game) begin well in advance of the game itself. The net sessions, as well as my strategies for how to approach my innings, are all part of the process. In terms of mental abilities, I owe a debt of gratitude to our team’s assistant coach R Prasanna, who has worked tirelessly on my behalf. He’s known me since I was 15 or 16, and he knows my game because we’ve played together. Prasanna keeps me pumped up before a game and believes in my ability to deliver every time I take the field. In addition, the team management’s position has been quite apparent to me. The communication within the team think tank is clear, which helps me to express myself each time I take the field.
As a finisher, who have you modeled your game after?
MS Dhoni is a player I have always admired and aspire to emulate as a finisher. His approach to the game is a masterclass for all. He is well aware of his ability, and the beauty of his batting is that he is able to push the game to new heights. The more you play the game, the more strain the bowlers will be under, giving you more opportunities to score and finish on the winning side.
Do you desire to wear the CSK shirt in the near future as a Chennai native?
I’m not thinking about the IPL auctions right now since I’d rather concentrate on the Ranji Trophy preparations.
What has changed the most in your game since you played in the IPL for Punjab Kings XI earlier this year?
I’ve done even better in white-ball cricket since returning from the IPL than I did last year. This year, I’ve been able to complete the runs more quickly. Participating in the IPL helped me gain confidence. At the nets, I started facing bowlers who frequently bowled above 140kph. In the Punjab Kings XI line-up, we had players like Mohd Shami, Riley Meredith, and Chris Jordan who were speedy. When you play against such high-quality bowlers in the nets and during games, your skill set immediately improves.
How eager are you to make an impression in red-ball cricket now that you’ve mastered the white-ball game?
It’s a different ball game when it comes to red ball. Having said that, I’ve also had success in red-ball cricket. I produced an undefeated 92 in my first Ranji game against Kerala (at Chepauk) in 2018-19, and I also hit a tough 55 against Delhi same season. I am prepared to play in any of the game’s forms. The top players in the world, such as David Warner, excel not only with the white ball but also with the longest form of the game.