Akshay will cheer for Team India!

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By Hindustan Times

As the biggest cricketing event, World Cup 2011, flags off in the subcontinent next week, Akshay Kumar, who is shooting in Chandigarh, promises to watch every match played in the city. “The rest of the games I will watch in my vanity van that’s equipped with satellite TV,” he says.

He has been crazy about cricket since he was old enough to hold a bat. Even today, every Sunday and on a rare day off, the actor pads up for a game with his son, Aarav, and the boys in his building. That’s why it was a real high when he bowled to cricketing greats like Andrew Symonds, Herschelle Gibbs and Kieron Pollard at the historic Oval ground during the filming of his just-released movie, Patiala House. “Aarav, who is more of a football fan, was cool, but I was over the moon,” admits the ‘Khiladi’.

And which team will he be cheering for given that in Patiala House he wears the blue-and-red English colours? “Oh, that’s just a movie and not for real,” he shrugs. “Of course, I will be rooting for our boys in blue. Team India is in peak form and I expect them to make it through to the finals and hopefully lift the Cup again.”

That’s every Indian’s dream, including Sachin Tendulkar who is playing his last World Cup. “Don’t put pressure on Sachin,” Akshay cautions. “He brings more happiness to us than Santa Claus. Let him play his strokes. I know that no matter what the outcome of this World Cup, we will always love the li’l master.”

In the film, cricket becomes the bone of contention between Akshay’s character, Gattu, and his Bauji (Rishi Kapoor). Gattu’s father has lived in London all his life but hates the goras (whites) for past wrongdoings. He would rather his son run a convenience store in Southhall than play for his adopted country.

Such tug-of-wars over career choices is not new to Akshay. His hair stylist friends had a long-running battle with his father who wanted him to be a doctor. “Today, he’s one of the leading stylists in the country,” says the actor, who is grateful his own father never stopped him from pursuing his ambitions.

“At the age of 14, I wanted to train in martial arts and my father encouraged me. He even let me migrate to Bangkok to learn the arts, knowing that a black belt in India didn’t earn more than Rs 5,000 a month,” he reminisces. “And today, as an actor those karate skills give me a leading edge while doing action scenes. It’s best to let your children chase their dreams rather than stifle them.”