Power-hitting is also about being calculative: Shahrukh | Cricket

Amid abundance of top order talent, there are precious few on the Indian circuit who can swing T20 matches by turning on the heat in the death overs. It’s the overseas talent pool that addresses this imbalance to maintain IPL standards. The few Indians who can make a difference are therefore always in demand. Tamil Nadu big-hitter Shahrukh Khan is back in the auction pool and can be reasonably sure that December 19 will bring him good news from Dubai.

Shahrukh Khan has been released by PBKS.(IPL)

Shahrukh, 28, was with Punjab Kings for three seasons where he didn’t always manage to hit it out of the park (S/R 134.81). The franchise may go for him again, but to free up 9 crore from their auction purse, they released him. The auction will tell us what the other teams think. “It’s not your team to be in all the time. I am out in the auction, so let’s see,” Shahrukh said.

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He seemed to have found some momentum last season when his strike rate climbed to 165.96. But PBKS ran out of patience. “People judge you when you can’t get those two sixes at the death. But it can’t happen every day. For bowlers too…for a Natarajan or Bumrah, they can’t be successful all the time. I try to stay till the last ball in the death overs.”

To find the hitting range from the word go is a specialised skill where consistency becomes a casualty. All teams are yet to fully realise its upside. “Once you hit 15-20 runs in one over, it feels amazing. When you don’t get them in one game, people think he has failed. But they don’t understand the value of getting 10 runs in 4-5 balls. If you look at T20 matches, that’s what it boils down to,” he says.

Youngsters like Ayush Badoni and seasoned pros like Dinesh Karthik know the value of being disruptive in the end overs. But their success comes from finding boundaries by creating angles in the field. Shahrukh is a rare Indian talent, blessed with power. “Power comes naturally to me. I am strongly built so I don’t have to do anything extraordinary. I have the technique to negotiate the good length balls. With my power, I know even mishits can go long. So, I don’t look to complicate it,” he says.

“I use the depth of the crease, particularly during the death. In the last few games of this year’s IPL, I came outside the crease as well and it came out good.”

It isn’t always about raw power at the death. “A lot of bowlers try to bowl the wide yorkers to me. I get doubles but not many boundaries and sixes. When I miss, those are dot balls. But with this tactic, third-man and fine leg are in. If I can develop a ramp shot over fine leg or the keeper, I can outsmart them. I have been working on it in practice matches.”

Shahrukh though feels Punjab’s 2023 tactic of being measured with hitting was better than in 2022 when they roped in a power-hitting coach and decided to go for big shots all through the batting order. “In 2022, some wickets in Mumbai were spongy and it wasn’t easy to hit all the time. In 2023, we played sensible cricket. It’s not just about power, it’s also about being calculative.”

Shahrukh also talks about a key factor for big strikers — endorsement and understanding from the captain. “At Tamil Nadu, the only position that was vacant was Nos 6-7. DK (Karthik) saw something in me and wanted me in the team. He felt I can hit three sixes in the last five balls. He put that belief in me. More than me practicing, the belief is important, and that comes from the captain.”

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