Cricketer Balwinder Singh Sandhu is best known for his delivery that got West Indies opening batsman Gordon Greenidge clean bowled in the cricket World Cup final at Lord's 27 years ago.
Soon, the Sikh will be famous with the current generation of cricket fans for making Akshay Kumar look like an effective fast bowler in the movie Patiala House.
Balwinder Singh Sandhu and Akshay Kumar during a practice session at a ground in Juhu, Mumbai. pics/ pradeep dhivar
Sandhu and Akshay have been training over the last few weeks for the movie directed by Nikhil Advani. "Paras Mhambrey (former India pace bowler, now bowling coach for Mumbai Indians) recommended my name for this job. It was interesting and I took it up," Sandhu told MiD DAY yesterday.
On Saturday, Sandhu had his first session with the Bollywood star in Mumbai. Prior to the session at Juhu, they worked together at Malshej Ghat where Akshay was shooting for Farah Khan's Tees Maar Khan. "I first asked for Akshay's videos and worked out a process on how to go about getting his action right. The clips indicated that he was a tennis ball bowler," said Sandhu.
The film star's dedication to the task didn't take time to come shining through. Sandhu learnt that his 'trainee' refused to use a double in the film. "Akshay wanted to do it himself. He is a thorough professional and a true sports lover. I go to bed by 10.30 pm but he used to watch the Indian Premier League games till the end and tell me all about them the next morning.
"He has a natural outswinger and I can say his release is better than some which we see in the IPL. We are working on his front-arm action and follow through -- off a short run-up at the moment," said Sandhu.
While at Malshej Ghat, the duo trained in the morning before Akshay's shooting sessions for Tees Maar Khan. "We had a pitch near the shooting area and we worked together even in the passage of his hotel. Akshay is a big star, but he made me feel very comfortable. 'Let's speak in Punjabi,' he said at the start. We also spoke about our respective days at Khalsa College," said Sandhu.
It was not only Akshay, who gained from the cricket lessons. The coach soaked in a lot too. "Akshay's involvement has driven home the point that if you have an open mind, you can achieve anything. He believed all what I told him and he has contributed to his progress. I took up this job because of the challenge attached to it and I am thoroughly enjoying it," said Sandhu. By the time you read this, another summer session at a ground in Juhu would have ended. Akshay is sure pitching it right.