M Shahrukh Khan: "I want to be the best version of myself wherever I go"

M Shahrukh Khan: “I want to be the best version of myself wherever I go”

Mr Shahrukh Khan said his spotty form with Punjab Kings in IPL 2022, where he only managed 117 runs in eight innings with an average of 16.71 and a strike rate of 108.33, and the lack of consistent opportunities within the franchise, did not shake his confidence.

“Results may and may not come, but I always bet a lot on the process,” Shahrukh said. “I spoke to Abhinav Mukund [during IPL], and it hasn’t affected my mind at all because I think I’m in my process and doing everything right. Sometimes it can come [off], sometimes not. The most important thing for me is if I practice well, train well and am in the correct mental space.

“Whatever team I play for, I try to do my best whether I get an opportunity or not. I just want to be the best version of myself every time I go – that whether it’s a training session or a game. [at TNPL 2022] we had a workout; I just wanted to be the best in this workout. Opportunities come and go; the most important thing is to sharpen your skills at the right time. That’s what I focused on.”

Shahrukh credited Julien Boisa former Hampshire and Berkshire hitter who was part of the Kings’ support staff as a power grab coach, for helping him hone his skills by practicing with heavy balls as well as heavy bats.

“He uses heavy balls and bats to get power and the swing of the bat and also to develop some strength in the forearm,” Shahrukh said. “Power hitting is something that comes naturally to me, so I don’t want to work on it too much, and I have my technique when I force it.

“So I’m good in terms of power, but Julian Wood has helped me maintain my form and my business. The balls he uses are heavy. [They are] much, much heavier than cricket balls and you can’t imagine the weight of that, and when you hit a ball it doesn’t move. I took a few points and that helped me.”

“This year, the Punjab Kings were definitely a powerful team from top to bottom, until [Kagiso] Rabada. Being among those guys, you pick up]a lot of points at the net, the way they hit and the way they talk to you,” Shahrukh said. “Jonny Bairstow and Livingstone helped me a lot in net in terms of how to keep hitting consistently. The discussions they had with me, I definitely carry them for a long time in my cricketing career.”

While power strikes continue to be Shahrukh’s strongest suit, he has worked just as hard on his backlash over the past year. He used to be a regular bowling option during his under-19 days, but a shoulder injury has limited that skill until recently. Shahrukh, who leads Lyca Kovai Kings in the ongoing TNPL, is the most prolific spinner in the tournament with ten strikes in seven games at a 14.80 average and an 8.29 save rate.

“For me, bowling is natural too,” Shahrukh said. “I was playing well in under-19 and under-23 and right from age group cricket but somewhere in the middle I had a shoulder injury so I couldn’t roll my arms as often. Now that everything is even, I’m working on my bowling… just working on the conventional lag. You don’t know anything different and I’m just working on a stock ball – be it white ball cricket or red ball cricket I just wanna go and spin the ball that much If I can spin the ball well out of my hand I think the ball and the wicket will do the rest for me.

Shahrukh has been added to the India team for the ODI home series against West Indies in February earlier this year but has since slipped down the pecking order. Deepak Hooda aside, India has no top-six hitters who can bowl. So, does Shahrukh see a way to return to the national team with his versatile skills?

“When you have two skills, it’s always an advantage, and I don’t think [like] only if i work on my bowling i will be there [in the national team]”, Shahrukh said. “Bowling and batting [are both] really important and I don’t wonder if they choose me or not. I just want to be there and do what I do best wherever I play. I’m at TNPL now, so I want to do what I can do for my team now.”

Shahrukh also spoke about Kovai Kings mysterious spinner B Surya who played net for Royal Challengers Bangalore in IPL 2022 even before making his TNPL debut. The 25-year-old has multiple variations in his repertoire, including a back-spinning carrom ball, and his save rate of 5.86 this season is the third best among bowlers who have bowled at least 20 times this season.

“Surya has done good for us,” Shahrukh said. “Initially the first game he played, he didn’t come out well. Obviously it was his first TNPL game, but later in the tournament as his nerves calmed down…he was always a bowler who can give us tight overs and the way he grips the ball, he’s able to land it in the right place at the right time.He put pressure on the opposition, new batsmen coming on strike. His progress has been very good and I hope he can deliver for us. [in the knockouts too].”

Deivarayan Muthu is a sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo

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