Shahrukh Khan is a dyed-in-the-wool finisher and this breed comes rare in the game.

“He is a game-changer and a match-winner,” says this big-built batsman’s Tamil Nadu coach D. Vasu.

The other day in Ahmedabad, Shahrukh conjured a blinder, a 19-ball unbeaten 40 in the quarterfinal of the Syed Mushtaq Ali tournament.

Tamil Nadu, unbeaten so far in this year’s competition, was on the verge of being knocked out at 66 for five in the 13th over.

The in-form openers N. Jagadeesan and Hari Nishaanth were back in the hut quickly. And skipper and batting mainstay Dinesh Karthik contributed just 2.

Desperate situation

Himachal Pradesh’s 135 seemed miles away. The compact B. Aparajith was battling away at one end. He desperately needed a partner.

The situation did not bother the 25-year-old Shahrukh. “I practise for moments like this. The position that I come in [No. 6 or 7] I am not going to get too many deliveries to face.”

And tear into the Himachal bowling he did, with blows over mid-wicket, the straight hits. All of a sudden we were watching a different game.

“When Shahrukh hits the ball, it stays hit. He picks the length and line quickly and there are no half measures. And he is such a powerful hitter. I am surprised he was not picked by an IPL team last season,” said Vasu.

The IPL snub disappointed Shahrukh too. “Being overlooked for IPL did leave me dejected for a while but soon I was out sweating it out.”

An injury meant he had to be operated on his little finger. “It was a tough phase but I came through it.”

Returning to the Tamil Nadu-Himachal game, Tamil Nadu was home by five wickets, Aparajith, calm, composed and judicious with his stroke-play was unbeaten on 52, while Shahrukh’s blitzkrieg shut out Himachal by five wickets.

This Shahrukh has it in him to be a big-budget star.

Friday’s semifinal schedule: Tamil Nadu vs Rajasthan, noon; Punjab vs Baroda, 7 p.m.

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