Keeps you hooked like a riveting match
Reviewed by Harbans Singh

The Big Fix
by Vikas Singh Westland. Pages 230. Rs 250

The interest of the cricket-crazy fans of IPL matches extends even to off-field activities of players Tribune photo
The interest of the cricket-crazy fans of IPL matches extends even to off-field activities of players Tribune photo

A lot of Indians are going to enjoy reading Vikas Singh's The Big Fix, not the least because it has readable T20 cricket as the subject of the novel. He has successfully blended the passion of the millions with the suspense of fixing in cricket and other attendant sins and crime in a reader-friendly manner. The fact that a reader begins reading the book at a furious pace while guessing who resembles the real cricketer and recalls a phrase here and an incident there, might still not feel shortchanged, goes to the credit of the author. The novel is perhaps one of the better-written, quick-read novels on any subject in the Indian context.

The story revolves around Shaurya Chauhan, captain of the Delhi team who is struggling for form, having lost it soon after an emotional break-up. With his team on the verge of elimination, he has an argument with his coach about his place in the playing XI, and is later woken up from sleep to find himself as the main suspect in his murder. Are there shades of Bob Woolmer's death during the 2007 World Cup in West Indies? You might wonder but such curiosity notwithstanding, from then on one thing leads to another till Shaurya runs headlong in the world of the match fixers.

The Big FixThe worlds of the cricket, underworld, media and the police combine to keep the reader riveted, without for a moment losing sight of the main job of playing T20 matches. Obviously, the author knows his cricket well and has painstakingly built the progress of the matches to lend them credibility and thrill. The balls "dart" and "seam in" and batsmen "smoke" the ball while for the hard core buffs of the game, the sledging might be straight from the more infamous confrontation between Australian Glen McGrath and West Indian Chanderpaul during the Steve Waugh era. The cricket-crazy country is all too aware of how the Indian Premier League has worked due to the media coverage of the off-field activities as well as the matches and hence the presence of the "baaad boys", sex and jealousies etc. makes the narration authentic. It is difficult to say if the blunders of the Delhi police are to mock the Indian police or not but the fact is that the image of the police of the Capital is not very flattering. More so when Shaurya finally unravels the mystery of the murder and is instrumental in confronting the suspect and exposing the nexus between the various layers of conspirators. In fact, the denouement is the weakest part of the plot since it is the least convincing. Even without the off-field heroics of Shaurya, the author had created a convincing storyline that held the attention of the reader.

Of course, the reader should not look for a great piece of literature in the novel. It is an entertainer created out of a theme we are all too familiar with and garnished with phrases and anecdotes that are repeated around the year when cricket matches are played. The author is a mediaperson and that not only helps with certain themes but is also handy in portraying situations involving crime when committed by those who are associated with showbiz and a sport like cricket. Those readers who know the game from television will feel gratified at having a glossary of cricket terms that are routinely referred to by the experts but are not really understood by the audiences. The book indeed is a delight.