New fiction combines crime, sports in IPL age

New Delhi: The timing of the release of Rajiv Rajendra's second 'Crim-Cric' novel "The League" is perfect considering it falls bang in the middle of the Indian Premier League, on which, it is loosely based.

With a story that pans out more like a Bollywood film, Rajendra is ready turn his main protagonist star cricketer Tarun Krishnan's adventures into a franchise after his debut novel "Doosra".

The tale about a billion-dollar cricket league in a fictitious island called Palmyra and run by a filthy rich Arab sheikh called Abdel Rafter al Rafter, the tome is not a production from the "whodunit" stable. Rather it reads more like an edge-of-the-seat thriller with detailed account of how the guilty will be nabbed.

As has been the popular notion about cash-rich T20 leagues, the author tries to weave a story around match-fixing, sleaze, deaths with a lot of inspiration from some of the incidents that had rocked the cricket world in not so distant past.

Hero of the story Krishnan assisted by Tech whiz kid Sunny Khare will save the image of the 'Glorious Game' from being tarnished by high-profile international mafia.

How they emerge successful in their mission is for the readers to find out but we can surely discuss some interesting facts about the book.

The author has thought of innovative names for the T20 league teams. They range from Violet Super Heroes to Yellow Scorchers to Orange Speeders, and Red Shooters.

However the name that takes the cake is that of famous film star Jahan Panah Khan (JPK). Now, you don't get marks for guessing as to who is inspiration behind such a name.

The author's fascination for hi-tec gizmos is reflected in how the character of Sunny Khare evolves.

The book also seems to be inspired from real life characters and incidents.

Those, who have grown up in the late 80's and 90's, may feel that the author, while doing a character sketch of Rafter, has been inspired by UAE billionaire Abdul Rahaman Bukhatir, who started international cricket in Sharjah.

Interestingly, it is believed that seeds of match-fixing were first sown in Sharjah.

 Raftar is bit of Bukhatir as well as Dawood Ibrahim (the part where is mentioned that Raftar loved starlets). Also there are shades of former IPL commissioner Lalit Modi in that character when he is described as a control freak.

He lives in a hi-tech mansion and has a sidekick with an unusual name 'Spike Shirazy'.

In one of the earlier chapters, there is a mention of one Mohammed Iqbal, who tried to flee from Palmyra Islands and seek asylum in UK after he was scared for his life.

According to newspaper reports at one time Pakistan wicketkeeper Zulqarnain Haider had one day suddenly vanished from his hotel room in Abu Dhabi and landed in UK to seek asylum as he feared that his life was in danger.

Then there is a part where an Australian coach David Richards is mysteriously found dead in his hotel room and the new fiction throws a flashback to former South Africa coach Bob Woolmer's death under similar circumstances during the 2007 World Cup in West Indies.

Then there is a portion of talented Indian cricketer Kaustubh Singh, who won the U-19 World Cup and loves to party hard and readers can't be faulted if Virat Kohli's face crosses their minds during the reading.

Rajendra has tweaked a couple of lines from the Eagles' iconic song 'Hotel California' in the book. There is a reference of each player wearing a bracelet  that carries a message "You can check in (out) any time you like, but you can never leave."

The author has a penchant for using tough words and sentences. In one place he refers to Raftar's dream being "…..gargantuan reality of such proportions" which should have actually been "reality of gargantuan proportions."

Rajendra could be lauded for letting his imagination run free of any pre-conceived notion which he might have had if he would have been an insider.

With CBI, Interpol, micro-chip trackers – the author plots the intricate crime novel that has been published by Blu Lotus.