But the 25-year-old Chennai batsman created his own identity on Thursday when he was bought by Preity Zinta‘s Punjab Kingsfort Rs 5.25 crore, a 26-time increase on his base price of Rs 20 lakh.
Shahrukh said that he wasn’t expecting such an intense bidding war between Punjab, Royal Challengers Bangalore and Delhi Capitals especially after going unsold in last year’s IPL auction.
“I underwent a surgery on my little finger just before 2020 auctions and couldn’t play much. That’s why I wasn’t picked probably. This year, I wasn’t expecting much. I was nervous at the beginning of my bid. But it was exciting to see the teams going after me. I will try to repay the faith shown by the Punjab management. I am also looking forward to playing under (coach Anil) Kumble sir and (captain) KL Rahul,” Shahrukh, who went for trials with Kolkata Knight Riders and Rajasthan Royals earlier this month, told TOI on Thursday.
Shahrukh might have created an impression for himself after playing as an opener for Lyca Kovai Kings in the Tamil Nadu Premier League (TNPL) but it is his role as a finisher for the Tamil Nadu side in the shorter formats which has made a bigger impact. In fact, his key contributions of 40* (19 balls) against Himachal Pradesh in the quarterfinal and 18* (7) against Baroda in the final went a long way in helping Tamil Nadu clinch the Syed Mushtaq Ali T20 Trophy last month.
With Punjab Kings being a top-heavy side, Shahrukh might fit in the role of a finisher at No. 6 or 7 and give them the thrust towards the end of an innings.
Shahrukh said that he is ready for the job. “I am ready to play in any position. But I revel while playing down the order. With the kind of power that I generate, I can finish off matches by hitting boundaries and sixes in the death overs,” Shahrukh said.
Having played only 31 T20s, 20 List A and 5 First Class matches, the middle-order batsman though might be a little short on experience of playing at the highest level. Shahrukh said that he will be working hard on his power game in the lead up to the IPL in order to be prepared for the top bowlers.
“Being a finisher is always tough because you don’t get much time to settle down. The bowlers also keep changing their line and lengths and vary their pace. But you have to create the most impact within those limited deliveries. (TN captain) Dinesh Karthik has been giving me inputs on how to go about the finisher’s role in the last one year. I hope to speak to him as well as my trainer Azhariah Prabhakar and our (TN) assistant coach R Prasanna on how to go about the job. I am also going to improve my power hitting game in the next month so that I can make the most of the opportunities coming my way,” Shahrukh concluded.