Tamil Nadu’s Shahrukh Khan, who landed a INR 5.25 crore IPL deal two days ago, revealed that it was bulking up and putting more muscle which helped him take his ball-striking ability to the next level. Shahrukh also revealed that Dinesh Karthik had a big role to play in his rise post 2019.
Tamil Nadu’s Shahrukh Khan became the second most expensive uncapped Indian player in the IPL 2021 auction when he was snapped up by Punjab Kings for a staggering sum of INR 5.25 crore, but the purchase did not come as a surprise to those who’d seen him in the 2021 Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy. There, Shahrukh scored his runs at a remarkable strike rate of 220.00 and played multiple match-winning cameos that helped his side TN lift the title.
The 25-year-old has been playing such cameos for two straight seasons, but what stood out in the recently-concluded SMAT was SRK’s physique. The finisher, in the T20 tournament, seemed to have put on considerable muscle and, in some games, used that physical prowess to overpower the bowlers. Speaking to ESPN Cricinfo in the aftermath of his life-changing IPL deal, Shahrukh revealed that he consciously wanted to bulk-up and added that the extra muscle has helped him become a better ball-striker.
"Last January, I had to undergo a finger surgery and needed three months for recovery. Then there was a lockdown because of Covid-19, but I was doing a lot of hitting. Say, if I was strong against one particular length in the last season, the opposition won't give me that length this season. So I wanted to improve my hitting against wide yorkers and short balls at my body. Initially during the lockdown, I didn't work on specifics, but once the domestic season was approaching, I worked on improving my bat-swing and range,” Shahrukh told ESPN Cricinfo.
"I was sprinting in my street and I was also lifting weights at home. Once the lockdown was relaxed, I went to Azhariah Prabhakar's home in Egmore and began training and it worked well for me. I've definitely become stronger and developed more muscles and I can see the difference when I hit the ball."
In his thus-far-young career, the superstar batsman from Tamil Nadu has been mentored by many a wise brain, but the right-hander singled out his state side’s skipper, Dinesh Karthik, as a major influential figure. Shahrukh revealed that DK usually helps him create simulations during net-practice, something he feels has helped him gauge match situations better.
"He has helped me a lot, right from the time I was given the middle-order role last season. He specifically calls me and tells me this is your target and you have to score this many runs in this many balls. He stands behind me in the nets and tells me you need to score 40 runs in 20 balls or like that. He has given me insights on how you can stand deep in the crease and pick areas,” the 25-year-old said of DK.
The youngster’s finest knock in TN’s title-winning 2021 SMAT campaign came in the quarter-final against Himachal, where, walking in at 66/5 in the 13th over, he struck a thumping 19-ball 40 to take his side over the line. This knock, many believed, all but sealed Shahrukh an IPL deal well beforehand. Reflecting on the match-winning cameo, the 25-year-old revealed that he did not focus on the match situation and just backed himself to deliver the goods. Shahrukh further insisted that he is a player who does not like to overcomplicate things.
"I didn't think about anything at all. There were about seven-eight overs left and I knew if I just bat seven overs, I had the belief that Tamil Nadu will win. I have done enough hitting practice and I have backed myself, but it was a bit surprising that we finished it with two overs to spare.
"I shouldn't clutter my mind because I play that [middle-order] role. I shouldn't complicate things and keep my mind black and let my body and hands move according to the ball. The blanker my mind is, the more productive I am."