What it takes to be in the big league
Reviewed by Balwinder Kaur

Power Play 
by Parinda Joshi,
Fingerprint! Pages 292. Rs 250

being a cricket fan in India is a rollercoaster ride where the exhilaration of victory, the agony of defeat, the glory of trophies and the disgrace of scandals are all part of the experience. India’s love affair with cricket is a rocky relationship as author Parinda Joshi clearly portrays in Power Play. Vivek Grewal finds himself in the familiar predicament of having to watch his favourite team lose. Lose constantly. Lose badly. So much so that they become synonymous with losing and are dubbed the ‘Official Losers of the League’. Tired of feeling the same impotent rage as millions of other viewers, Vivek decides to do something.

No longer satisfied with yelling obscenities at the TV screen he applies his professional prowess to fixing the Ahmedabad Rangers so that they can stand a fighting chance in the Indian Gamers’ League. He does the research, crunches the numbers and convinces billionaire Harsh Desai to buy the Rangers, promising a lucrative deal that will yield rich dividends with minimal investment and some restructuring. However, Vivek’s love for cricket is not the only romance as him and Kiya Singhal, a dedicated Rangers employee, fight and butt heads but start falling for each other.

The euphoria of combining his two great passions: cricket and work doesn’t last long. As it does not turn out to be the quick deal he had envisioned. He is made to personally oversee the reorganisation. Little did he realize that off the field lies an extremely complex ecosystem which sustains the team, where it seems that clashes are more frequent than matches. Vivek now has to harmonise the player’s passion, the agent’s agendas, the owner’s pride, the team’s success, the attorney’s schemes, the leagues’ profit, the board’s politics, the employees’ livelihood and the fans adoration. The necessary but unsavoury downsizing ceases to be a faceless headcount and becomes real people like Kiya. Brutally driving home the actual human cost of the high-stakes profiteering he enables.

The venture which started with sunny skies now has dark clouds overhead, and even this determined veteran of numerous high stakes mergers and acquisitions realises he is in way over his head. Powerful people are looking for returns on their investment at any cost. He finds that there are no umpires, no rulebooks and no watchful eyes safeguarding the interests of the people. More than he ever realised, a much larger conspiracy emerges. It is only when Kiya and him start working as a team that they make headway. But the stakes in this game are very high. Will the players have what it takes to win?