It may be possible to think of more hyped, uncapped Indian T20 finishers in the IPL in recent years than M Shahrukh Khan, but they do not spring readily to mind.
The 27-year-old Tamil Nadu batter has been equal to the hype as well. He came into last year’s IPL on the back of barnstorming form in domestic cricket. Sample this: 101 runs off 64 balls in six innings at an average of 33.66 in the Syed Mushtaq Ali T20, 253 runs at a strike rate of 186.02 in seven Vijay Hazare Trophy matches, and 285 runs from Ranji Trophy innings at a strike rate 102.88.
So, when Shahrukh ended up having a forgettable outing with the Punjab Kings in IPL 2022, where he managed only 117 runs in eight innings at a strike rate of 108.33, there was a feeling that he was not given enough chances to influence the outcome.
Shahrukh has played three games this season, batting at No. 6, 7 and 8. He has faced 39 balls and scored 71 runs so far, at a strike rate of 182.05. Shahrukh played the finisher’s role to perfection against the Lucknow Super Giants on Saturday, finishing unbeaten on 23 off 10 balls to seal victory. He had walked in with PBKS still needing 38 runs in 4.1 overs with four wickets in hand and leggie Ravi Bishnoi exploiting the larger leg-side boundary with his turn into the right-handers.
Shahrukh later revealed his game plan. “If I get too cheeky, I don’t think it will work for me. So, I just have one thing on my mind. I look to play straight. If anything is here and there, I try and adjust. It’s good that it’s paying off.”
Shahrukh’s career death-overs strike rate in T20s right now is a staggering 184.93, and Punjab Kings will do well to continue grooming him as its go-to finisher.
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