Out of comfor zone: India's fan Sudhir Gautam 'banks' on his leg-breaks

New Delhi: An average Indian cricket lover can be distinctly classified into three categories. The first and foremost category is of crazy star gazers like Sudhir Gautam, who would do anything for their five seconds of television fame. Then there are serious cricket spectators, whose facial expression produces a snigger when you talk of Indian Premier League, which they still feel is 'Poor man's Pyjama cricket'.

Sudhir Gautam
Sudhir Gautam

And then there is a third category of cricket devotees. 43-year-old former banker, Subodh Chhabria can be classified in that category. Watching South Africa's net session, one just cannot miss an elderly gentleman bowling leg-breaks from his three step run-up. Subodh has a slight paunch and wears photo-chromatic spectacles.

The first impression is that he is one of the innumerable 'jugaadu' lurking around in DDCA and has sneaked into bowl at the South African nets because of some connections. But you probe a bit and get more suspicious before someone tells you that he had bowled to the South Africans earlier in the series before a warm-up game in Mumbai.

Then there is further information about him being a regular at the Mumbai Indians nets for last six years. And then if you closely watch Subodh roll his wrists, you find that Faf Du Plessis and Dean Elgar are not able to really play him very comfortably. Now the suspicion turns into inquisitiveness and when you speak to him, you are astonished to the point asking yourself whether this guy is mad.

He was in Dubai for 25 years, worked up the corporate ladder in HSBC's Dubai main branch before he quit it all for cricket. His ambition was to learn leg-spin bowling. "I had enough money in my bank but there was something I was missing. Make no mistake, I had a great life, a supportive family and a job that paid well. But I was not satisfied wearing a tie and doing the 9-5 job. I decided I had to move on and do something that I loved," the 43-year-old told PTI.

"I spent my own money and went to Australia to meet Terry Jenner (former Australian leg-spinner and more importantly Shane Warne's coach). I went there thrice to know about the nuances of leg-spin and exact wrist positioning. "I was not thinking about playing Ranji Trophy or anything. I just wanted to be the best leg-spinner that I
could ever be. I have played Kanga League for Cricket Club of India (CCI), Jai Hind, Shivaji Park Youngsters (SPY)," says he as he proudly showed his jersey's logo.

"I have an amazingly supportive wife. She works but make no mistake, I don't live off her earnings. Yes, I only bowl leg-spin and I know I am good at it. Also I have completed ICC's Level I coaching course. Having done a coaching course makes one more rounded in his knowledge." He has bowled to Sachin Tendulkar at the nets but his
'badge of honour' is bowling in tandem with Warne before the Aussie legend's last IPL match for Rajasthan Royals.

"Warne told me that it is important for a bowler to know that he has bowled a good delivery. He told me that the 'moment the ball comes out of your hand, you should know you bowled a good ball. And if its hit for a six, so be it. Never judge a delivery from a batsman's perspective'," Subodh revealed as he got ready to bowl the next session to India skipper Virat Kohli.

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