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June 29, 2011

Book Review - 38 : Cricket Till I Die!

Author: Upneet Grover
Publisher: Cedar Books

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Vineet was an average engineer at an IT firm. His office sucked the life out of him making him hate every moment he spent there. Cricket was his passion, a passion which he never had the guts to pursue until fate bestowed upon him an opportunity which would change his life forever. Shrugging off a sparkling career – as a management consultant – that lay ahead, this rubber ball stroking bloke embarks upon the most mercurial excursion to fulfill his dream of donning the navy blue jersey that reads INDIA. The expedition which is riddled with the most crushing lows and mind numbing highs proves to be the ultimate test of his fortitude and makes him even more resolute. How much more can he sacrifice to get there? And most importantly, will he get there?

Cricket is a religion in India, something which we all have adulated on for years now. Cricket till i Die is the story of Vineet - who left his job at IT infotech to start MBA at FMS and then a plum internship as a management consultant to take up cricket. Now, if you can get past a few OTT plot points along with numerous spelling and grammatical mistakes in printing, there are quite a lot of things to savour in this book. To start with, the pace of the narrative is brisk and never dwells on a particular plot to the point of self-indulgence. Even if you are not a cricket fan, it is still an easy read because it keeps the cricketing jargon to a minimum.There are factual errors with the chronology of cricketing events and player stats but if you don't know these details, you will most probably not even notice them. The love story in the book is just not there for ornamental purpose as is the case these days with young fiction, but holds a very important and defining thread in the narrative. It highlights the importance of being in touch with the right people when you are getting all the success in life.

The most touching scene of the book comes when Mr. Sharma, coach of the local cricket club forces the lead protagonist to go ahead with the plans of joining a bigger club than the one he currently plays for because, as a coach he is clear that a talent like him should not be wasted in the mediocre realms of his own club. The book constantly swings in the deliberations of following your dreams and having a safe corporate career. It also doesn't shy away from showing the ugly side of cricket politics and how inadvertently cricketers get affected by it in their personal and professional lives. There is an unexpected twist at the end of the book which is ironic and dramatic in equal measures. The book does go for a hurried ending, but is enough to make you understand that to be don't really need to travel a fixed path. If you are mentally strong, you can achieve success if you put your mind and heart into it. In all honesty, it truly celebrates the spirit of cricket - When the going gets tough, the tough gets going.

The only time the narrative flounders is when it gets into description of one IPL match to another, showing how the cricketer with hardly no cricketing background rises above the ranks. These scenes not only comes across as a little unrealistic but also tend to get monotonous because you know all of them would end with the main protagonist coming out on top in difficult match situations. These portions could have been toned down to induce a practical factor, in turn leading credence to the quick rise for the gifted cricketer.

I am going with 3/5 for Upneet Grover's debut novel, Cricket Till I Die. It is fast paced, breezy read and won't take much time to finish. It is touch inspiring and entertaining and will make you absorb in the milieu it has set itself into. Don't treat this book as a cricket or a management novel, at it's heart it is nothing but about the triumph of the human spirit.

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