When one thinks of M. Shahrukh Khan, the image is that of a clean and powerful striker who can hit humongous sixes, coming lower down the order.
However, in the ongoing Tamil Nadu Premier League (TNPL), even as his teammate Sai Sudharsan has set the run charts ablaze, Shahrukh is also topping the charts, albeit in a different avatar as a tidy off-spinner.
He is the leading wicket-taker in the competition with 11 scalps at an excellent economy rate of 6.31 in six matches and has played a crucial role in his side Lyca Kovai Kings becoming the first team to reach the playoffs.
Speaking to Sportstar about his new dimension, Shahrukh said, “I have always enjoyed bowling. Sometime back, I had a shoulder injury and couldn’t bowl much, but I have recovered. In Tamil Nadu, we have an excellent attack with high-quality spinners, so I am not required much.”
Even last year, he finished as the fourth-highest wicket-taker in the league with 11 wickets and has often bowled in the PowerPlay this year, something he says he enjoys doing.
The swashbuckling batter also gave an interesting explanation for the success he has had with the ball.
“I think, for a while, we have had many left-arm and wrist spinners. So, batters have practised against them a lot and have gotten better but are struggling against off-spinners. Especially, if you can turn it a bit into the body, there is no space to free the arms,” he said.
The Tamil Nadu player, who has been part of the IPL for the past three years with Punjab Kings, has continued to play the role of finisher even in the TNPL and has faced only 39 balls from four innings.
“It is very similar to my role in the IPL, so it is good practice. More importantly, I have established myself and gone to the next level. So it is important to let other batters in the team show what they can do and probably take the next step,” said the Kovai Kings skipper.
In the IPL, Shahrukh scored 156 runs at a commendable strike rate of 166, but his performances flew under the radar, with the team finishing eighth. “I feel I made an impact in the limited opportunities I got and improved as a batter.”
“I used to struggle against short-pitch stuff bowled above 140 kph. But this year, I was able to handle it. In my role, you have to start hitting from the first ball, which I was able to do,” he said.
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