On the way back from a practice session earlier this year, the Tamil Nadu cricketers in a team bus were huddled around their mobile phones.
They were collectively watching the live stream of the IPL 2021 auctions.
Soon, a collective roar of joy erupted and loud cheers engulfed the bus.
One of their mates was up for grabs and a bidding war between Delhi Capitals, Royal Challengers Bangalore, and Punjab Kings had commenced.
After about 4 minutes of intense cross-fire across the auction room, the Mohali-based franchise Kings Punjab acquired the services of Shahrukh Khan for a staggering INR. 5.25 crores.
The cricketer was mobbed in the bus and yet another IPL dream had become a reality.
Right after owner Preity Zinta's directed her "We've got Shahrukh" quip towards Bollywood superstar Shah Rukh Khan's son Aryan, who was sitting at the Kolkata Knight Riders auction table, this brand new addition to Punjab Kings created quite a stir on the internet.
But nothing could be more wholesome than that video posted by his Tamil Nadu captain Dinesh Karthik.
The entire squad cheering for the 25-year-old on the team bus as the events of the auction unfolded showed how much making the IPL grade means for a first-class cricketer.
Cricket fans who usually follow only international fixtures might be familiar with the famous name, not the person. But those who follow Indian domestic cricket have seen the young lad gaining the reputation of a reliable finisher after years of dogged determination.
Close-calls and years of perseveranceAfter persuasion from his aunt, Shahrukh was named after the legendary 'King' Khan.
But instead of following the career path of his renowned namesake, Shahrukh followed the footsteps of his father Masood, a former club cricketer. While growing up in Velachery, South Chennai, he started out with tennis-ball cricket.
In 2012, Shahrukh started participating in Chennai's first-division league and was named the 'Player of the Junior Chennai Super Kings Tournament' for his spirited performance as an all-rounder for the St. Bede's school.
Things were looking up for the young lad as he raked up 624 runs and 8 wickets during the Cooch Behar Trophy, which was a lead-up tournament to the 2014 Under-19 World Cup. He was on the cusp of donning India colours.
But his hopes of making the India grade were shattered as he didn't receive a call-up despite his impressive performance.
This snub had a silver lining as it allowed Shahrukh to make his List-A debut in 2014 for Tamil Nadu in the 2013-14 Vijay Hazare Trophy.
In the following years, he also started featuring in the Tamil Nadu Premier League, where he kept working on his batting and bowling techniques through trial and error.
However, his transition to top-flight cricket was halted as he was unable to find a spot in Tamil Nadu's Ranji Trophy playing XI despite his maiden call-up in 2014.
Finally, after warming the bench for four long years, he made his first-class debut in 2018.
Here, he went on to score a memorable unbeaten knock of 92, which helped Tamil Nadu defeat Kerela by 151 runs.
The ascent had now begun.
A steady climb to the IPL summit
Slowly, he solidified his position in the state team across all formats with his ability to finish games.
His quick 30s and 40s at the lower middle-order not only saved his team from tricky situations but also won him trials at IPL franchises like Mumbai Indians.
In fact, many believed that he would make his IPL debut in 2020. Unfortunately, he was unsold during last year's auction, following which he also injured a finger.
But that didn't dampen the spirits of the batting all-rounder and he went on to play a crucial role in Tamil Nadu's victory in the 2020-21 Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy.
His 40* from 19 balls during the Quarter-Final match against Himachal Pradesh further enhanced his chance of getting picked at the auction.
And after years of trying to break into cricket's biggest league, Shahrukh's determination and talent eventually fetched him a lucrative contract with Punjab Kings.
In 2020, Punjab Kings' inability to finish games came back to haunt them.
The addition of Shahrukh now hands them that much-needed cushion in the lower-middle batting order.
If things go per plan, this Tamil Nadu lad could soon be the toast of Punjab.