The IPL took India by storm. Now get ready for the JPL. Promising the same thrills and excitement of the IPL, the Junior Premier League takes readers on a roller coaster ride careening through the matches to the finale.
A great treat awaits boys who live and breathe cricket. Junior Premier League by Joy Bhattacharjya, takes the readers through a roller coaster ride of cricket until the last ball is bowled. JPL is a kids’ version of IPL, and has the same thrills, spills, excitement, success, failures and disappointments as the IPL. Heroes are made in a day and matches are won or lost in a couple of overs.
Twelve-year-old Neel befriends Sachin while visiting his grandparents in Ranchi. Neel is amazed by Sachin’s unique bowling action. The two start practising together. After the vacation, Neel returns to Delhi and starts preparing with the Junior Devils, the Delhi team of the first ever Junior Premier League Tournament (for the under 15). Each school nominates two boys and Neel and his good-friend-cum-classmate-cum-neighbour Aryaman have been nominated from their school.
Neel’s elder sister Shruti takes on the job of training the boys. She puts them through a series of exercise routines and by a strange co-incidence, Sachin comes to live with his aunt in Delhi, as his father has been transferred. Sachin joins The Shiksha School (Neel’s school) and joins Neel and Aryaman in the Junior Devils Team.
The Junior Devils coach Satyajit Sinha, ex-Kargil hero (reminiscent of Shahrukh Khan from “Chak De India”) puts the boys through the paces, training them in every aspect of the game.
After the vigorous camp, the book unfolds in a series of back-to-back games that the Junior Devils play. There is never a dull moment. Readers are hurtled at breakneck speed through the different cities and the stadiums. With the guidance of coach Satyajit and his motley staff, the players take on a sparkle worthy of heroes.
The writer cleverly weaves different threads: sledging, pre-match information, indiscipline, bullying, to give the readers a deeper insight of what a player undergoes. Even for non-cricket lovers, there is enough excitement and pace in the story for the readers to give it a read.
The last chapter which synchronises with the finals will have the readers sitting on the edge of their seats, chewing their nails and turning the pages frantically to know which team wins the JPL. A small grouse though, I wish that either the writer, editors or the proof readers had caught the errors in the scores. These errors in the last chapter can throw the reader into a panic mode about what the exact score in the game is . But as one continues reading, one realises what the actual score is.
JUNIOR PREMIER LEAGUE by Joy Bhattacharjya. A Puffin Original. Rs 199.