Tamil Nadu batter Shahrukh Khan made headlines on the final day of the Indian T20 League 2022 mega auction after being sold to Team Punjab for a whopping INR 9 crore, becoming the joint-second most expensive uncapped player from this year’s event.

The 26-year-old Chennai-born batter was a regular fixture for Punjab in last year’s Indian T20 League edition, appearing in 11 of his team’s 14 league outings while scoring 153 runs at an average of 21.85. Now, his numbers from last season may seem like an underwhelming return but the fact that he scored runs at a strike rate of 134.21 made him an attractive prospect.

After being sold to Punjab for INR 5.25 crore ahead of the 2021 Indian T20 League edition, Khan entered this year’s auction with a base price of just INR 40 lakh. Given his performances last year, which included a nine-ball 22 against Kolkata and 36-ball 47 against Chennai,  the 26-year-old attracted big bids from several teams before Punjab swooped him away by taking advantage of their competitors’ shrinking purse.

Who is Shahrukh Khan?

Unlike his famous Bollywood namesake, Shahrukh Khan - the cricketer - may not be a household name in sport yet, but he remains one of the most sought-after players in India’s domestic competitions. During the 2020-21 Syed Mushtaq Ali final between Tamil Nadu and Baroda, the middle-order batter hit 15 runs in the 18th over to guide his team to a seven-wicket win. Khan batted at a strike rate of 257.14 having scored 18 runs off just seven deliveries.

The 26-year-old was at it again during the 2021-22 Syed Mushtaq Ali season, this time making Karnataka his victim. While chasing 152, Khan scored 33 runs in a mere 15 balls, including a last-ball six to help Tamil Nadu retain the title.

The 26-year-old flourished while playing as a middle-order batter for Tamil Nadu and has often played some astounding match-winning knocks. When asked about his role in the team, he made it clear that he’s a finisher in keeping with the demands of his side.

“It is because of the way I have practised in the past and the role that was assigned to me by Tamil Nadu when they needed a finisher,” he was quoted by Sportstar. 

“I have grown into that role. It’s not easy because it doesn’t come naturally. I feel you’ve to work on it a lot more than any other batting position. That is what I did before games - learning how to pace the inning and take it deep,” he added.

One of Tamil Nadu’s constants across domestic competitions, Khan’s recent exploits include a fantastic innings of 194 runs against Delhi in the ongoing Ranji Trophy campaign, reassuring everyone that he could be as effective across several formats.

Khan has several tricks up his sleeves and is often known for his calm persona. This particular aspect of his style allows him to hit quick-fire runs in the shortest format.

“One of my most favourite T20 knocks is the 19-ball 40 against Himachal Pradesh in the Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy quarter-final last season,” he said. “Then the 15-ball 33 versus Karnataka in the SMAT final last November. These two knocks were special.”

It wasn’t always smooth sailing for Shahrukh Khan though as a look at his formative years in the domestic circuit will tell you. His first taste of domestic cricket came during the Vijay Hazare Trophy 2013-14 match against Goa where he did not get a chance to bat. The youngster slotted in lower middle-order, in fact, failed to bat for his team for the entirety of the tournament.

However, hard work, determination and perseverance ensured that his time would eventually come. As he continued to steadfastly pursue his goal, he began to make an impact on the field more consistently and was eventually called into his state's Ranji team. That said, he had to wait until the fifth game of the 2018-19 campaign to make his debut but when he did, Shahrukh impressed one and all with a 155-ball 92 and there has been no looking back since.

In his brief domestic career across all formats - FC, List A and T20 - Khan has scored 1709 runs to date and continues to knock on the selectors’ doors. Perhaps a strong performance in the Indian T20 League 2022 may take him beyond being just a standby player and domestic hero. 

As of today though, a national team debut still remains a long way off although the same could have been said about many players in the past who used the Indian T20 League as the perfect launchpad to kick start their career.

Featured photo: Twitter / Shahrukh Khan

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