Why RCB has the most loyal fan base.

Fandom, after all, is born of a balance between fascination and frustration: if media content didn’t fascinate us, there would be no desire to engage with it; but if it didn’t frustrate us on some level, there would be no drive to rewrite or remake it.

When I first moved into the city back in 2003, I was just a little kid who barely knew anything about Bengaluru other than the fact that it is famously know as “The Garden City”. What else did you expect from a 6 year old? Ever since then my connection with this beautiful city as only deepened with time and now I can proudly say that I am a Banglorean. (the fact that I can’t speak Kannada, and though I understand it pretty well doesn’t take away that title from right?)

Being from a family which literally worships Cricket, I could only imagine how pumped up a tournament like the Indian Premier League would get us considering the fact that all of the world’s best cricketers would be seen playing together and competing against their very own national team mates. Doesn’t that idea sound crackingly good to you? The IPL was launched at a grand-scale level way back in the 2008 and oh my, it has only been growing ever since.

The only problem our family faced was which team to support now that we have moved into another city, and our home city, which happens to be Kanpur, doesn’t have a team of its own. Well, the unwritten rule stated that we had to support the city we were residing in and I guess everyone just stuck to that without ever questioning the other family members’ (which included my mom and dad) decisions.

The stage was built and everyone was hyped up for the start of what now has become the most awaited tournament of the year! The RCB squad had some famous cricketers in Rahul Dravid (also our captain then), Jacques Kallis, Anil Kumble, the swing-king Praveen Kumar, and Zaheer Khan. Not to forget Dale Steyn, and Mark Boucher. It was a fabulous team and we had enough fire-power to beat anyone down.

I still remember what a horrible start we had to the IPL. I don’t know what hurt me the most — McCullum’s 158 against RCB in the very first match, or that our entire team collapsed for an ordinary 82, or perhaps the fact that we ended up at the bottom of the points table. I would be honest with you, I really started to doubt my decision to support the Bangalore team. What saved me from changing my decision was this little dialogue I once heard in a movie.

Everyone deserves a second chance. Time will heal all the wounds.

Next year, we grabbed our popcorns and got ready for the biggest circket tournament in the world hoping that our dear team would perform if not good, then at least a little better this time.

This time, Kevin Pietersen made his way to our team and that only raised our expectations from the boys. Our team saw various captains from Rahul Dravid to Kevin Pietersen and then finally led by Anil Kumble. We started our campaign with a win over the defending champions and then had a few dissapointments but ended up 3rd on the table.

We made the knockouts! This was the season when I became the hardcore RCB fan that I am right now and my wonderful journey began as I saw my team defeat the Chennai Super Kings and move on to the first finals where we unfortunately lost to Deccan Chargers to become the runners up. Not to forget the brilliant century by RCB’s Manish Pandey who also became the first Indian to score a century in the IPL.

The next season was a roller coaster which involved some of the highest run chases in the T20s by RCB, consequently improving our net run rate and pushing us into the knockouts. This time too we lost our way into the crucial games and lost the race to the cup. The highlights of this season were Kallis, and Uthappa, while the Steyn-Vinay duo tore apart the other teams.

Now this looks like a Wikipedia post, doesn’t it? No! It’s just me taking time to recollect all the wonderful times we had with Namma RCB whether it was their worst season or the best.

Fast forward to the 2011 season of the IPL. AB de Villiars entered our team, and later Chris Gayle was brought in as a replacement for Dirk Nannes. Little did we know that these men would make RCB the most feared team in the seasons to come. At this point, not everyone found RCB entertaining. Yes, we had a few fireworks from our batsmen especially when Kallis and Uthappa looked unstoppable. But now they were gone and our team was rebuilt from scratch leaving Virat Kohli as the only man to be retained. Only if we knew this was the best decision Vijay Mallya ever made. Daniel Vettori was made the new Captain of the team.

In between all this, Virat Kohli was having an amazing calender year and was in the form of his life, coming from 2010 with an average 47 in the ODIs. Looking at how he was breaking all records on the international level, he was a player to watch out for in this short version of the gentlemen’s game.

After a below par performance by RCB in the starting half, Chris Gayle marked his entrance in the team by making 108* in his very first match against Kolkata Knight Riders in just around 49 balls! This left the opposition dumbstruck as everyone just gulped and wondered how Gayle made it look so easy, it was almost as if he was playing with a tennis ball.

The amount of confidence Gayle brought in the team saw us chase down high targets as if it were a piece of cake. This remained the best season for us till date as Gayle won his first orange cap scoring 608 runs and not behind was Virat Kohli who even surpassed the little master Sachin Tendulkar at 557 runs. We won 9 out of our 14 matches and raced through the Playoffs, where we lost to Chennai Super Kings and then faced them again in the final when we destroyed the Mumbai Indians wining by a margin of 43 runs. It was unfortunate that we lost again in the finals.

Kohli and Gayle were in top form as we entered the finals of the Champions League making RCB the only team to enter all three seasons of this tournament. This was our third T20 final, and God knows why we lost to the injury-hit Mumbai Indians yet again.

Questions were raised and a lot of fans were hurt because RCB had now become the team with the most destructive batting line up especially when you see Gayle hit 92 odd runs in almost every match in just 44 deliveries and having an average strike rate of 183.13 throughout the 2011 IPL tournament. It was impossible for us to lose. There were times when AB de Villiars showcased his enormous talent of hitting the ball around the park in every direction possible. Sreenath Aravind and Zak were consistently performing with the bowl as Daniel Vettori kept it tight with the best economy for the side.

The next three seasons saw the burst of Gayle as Bangalore was now called “Ban-Galye-ore” and he became the top scorer for RCB in almost every season and AB showed his class and skills making him the most feared T20 batsman after Gayle because of his flexibility and inventive shots. It was impossible to bowl to him because he would hit your on-point yorkers to the 2nd tier of the ground and you can not help but wonder what a superman he is. Not behind all this was Virat Kohli who had now conquered the International World Cricket in almost every format of the game and he went on to brake many records.

Being a cricket lover, I adore how Virat transformed from an angry young man to a much matured batsman who’s so passionate towards the game that you’d feel ashamed of yourself on the field for not giving your 120% every time you played because this guy had so much energy in him that he lifted every one around him and that is why he was named the new captain of RCB after Vettori retired from a brilliant career.

Royal Challengers Bangalore were the most-watched team in the world as everyone found them entertaining. And why wouldn’t you? When you have Gayle doing Gangnam Style and AB hitting his national team mate Steyn for more than 30 runs in a single over, you are just bound to sit there and watch the game as if you were watching the nature do something that was beyond our limit to interpret. It moves you inside out and no matter which team you support, if you follow cricket, by which I mean good cricket and the sportsmanship that comes with it, you would love the way RCB plays because they play their hearts out everytime and no matter the result, they always manage to win hearts.

Probably the only thing that was missing in our side was a good quality bowler now that Zak and his counterparts were out of the team. Mitchell Starc came into the rescue after missing a few games in the beginning and he turned RCB’s fortunes upside down! He had an economy of just over 6 and that is brilliant considering the amount of pressure this short format of the games puts on them. He took 20 wickets and now RCB was a complete side. Another shining star came in the form of Yuzvendra Chahal who became the highest wicket taker for RCB with 23 wickets placing him third on the Purple Cup chart just below Dwayne Bravo and Lasith Malinga.

2016 was a special year for us. Why? We had a terrible start, not to mention Starc was unfit for this season. We won our first game and then lost too many in the middle. What went wrong? We had no bowler! Starc was the only feared bowler in our side and everyone else was just average bowlers who weren’t scary and by scary I mean a Dale Steyn or a Brett Lee or a Malinga. We didn’t have anyone of them, instead we had Sreenath Aravind who had performed in patches but had leaked too many runs when it mattered, we had Varun Aaron who was extremely fast with respect to Indian bowlers but he didn’t have that consistency, we had Chahal who was the only bowler we could count on, but he too conceded run when the pitch favoured the batsmen.

What came as a blessing to us, or put it this way — the last “good” thing that Vijay Mallya did before resigning as the Director of RCB — was the addition of Shane Watson in the team. He not only was a destructive batsman who would add to the woes of the opposition considering we already had the deadly trio of Gayle-AB-Kohli, but he also was a superb bowler who had a few tricks up his sleeves.

The expectations were high but RCB failed to deliver. Yet again. Gayle lost his magical touch and didn’t cross the single digit score throughout the first half of the season and Kohli was performing every once in a while. Everybody lost hope as we were swinging at the bottom of the table placed second last, just above the newly formed Rising Pune Supergiants.

The only way we could make the Playoffs was by winning 4 out of our last 4 games. An impossible task you say? “Challenge accepted!” Was the reply captain Virat would give.

Match number 44 was the one in which we decided to wear our Green Jerseys to support Environment Friendly techniques and nobody would have thought that this change in jersey would also mean a change in our fortunes. A partnership of astronomical proportions and individual centuries by Virat Kohli and AB de Villiers were the highlights of Royal Challengers Bangalore’s commanding win over the Gujarat Lions on the Saturday evening. We broke several records and it looked like nobody wanted to face us after this match. But the task wasn’t over. We still needed to win 3 out of 3.

Match number 48 saw the brief roaring of Chris Gayle as he blasted the mighty Knight Riders with a 49 of just 31 balls. The stage was set and the world was glued to their screens as AB de Villiars walked out to the center after his staggering 52-ball 129* in the last match against the GL. Virat was injured and he had a split webbing on his right hand and yet he showed composure and the 115-run unbeaten partnership between him and de Villiers — which came in 11.1 overs — was an exhibition in batting and a lesson in how to chase targets.

Everyone was pumped up and no matter where RCB played, every ground was our home ground as I could hear the chants of “RCB! RCB! RCB!” go around the stadium. Why did that happen? Virat Kohli and AB de Villiars were now the most loved batsmen in the country! Their performances in the recent times looked like RCB could now very well make it to the playoffs and not only just that — might win the Vevo IPL 2016 too!

The fact that we were now favourites to win the IPL meant that we would clinch our maiden IPL trophy! Only RCBians knew how emotional this statement meant to us. We have been there for the time through its thick and thin, when the team was still figuring out the best combinations of the squad and when everybody called RCB only entertainers and the team “that underperformed all the time”. Blames were quickly thrown to us saying the rich lifestyle of Mallya influenced a lot of players as there were after parties and the team celebrated after every match like they had won the finals. Some of the excuses the media made up were so deeply saddening that I sometimes wonder if RCB is truly RCB only because of the superstars in the team? The questions have now been cleared.

We won the next two games comfortably as Virat and AB were in top form and now were supported by Chris Gayle who came to the party sooner rather than later. We broke a lot of records too, in that process and the most memorable one would be how Virat scored a century in the rain-affected game against the Kings XI Punjab when the match was reduced to 15-overs each. Who would have believed that RCB would reach 211/3 in just 15 overs and would witness a century by Virat. Kohli now also becomes the first batsman to score 4 centuries in a single season. Can you believe that? This guy had everyone feeling blessed that they could watch him play. Such was his skill. We finished second on the table due to our superb net run rate, which meant we now had two chances to reach the finals in case we fall short in the first attempt. Phew!

In the Qualifier 1, our bowlers did a fantastic job as we restricted the Gujarat Lions to a small 158. This looked like an easy target considering how our batsmen were playing. If we only knew that 5 overs into the second innings RCB would be 29/5. Yes you read that right. Royal Challengers Bangalore were 29 for FIVE. Not all hopes were lost as AB was still there in the center closely watching and analysing his next move. Within moments, two brief partnerships with Binny (21 from 15) and Abdulla (33* from 25) saw us cross the line. Even Virat couldn’t believe we actually won the match.

“I think this settles as to which is the best team in the world.” As Kohli rightly said in the presentation ceremony after the match. What this also meant was that we were the first finalists of the tournament! Who would have ever thought we could make it this far? We were at the bottom of the points table and now we were the first team to enter the finals! This was some crazy moment for the fans. After a long 5 day wait, the moment finally arrived.

It was Sunrisers Hyderabad vs Royal Challengers Bangalore in the final of the Vevo IPL 2016. RCB were the favourites to win, but SRH were consistent throughout the season and this was going to be a cracker of a game. It was, after all, the best bowling side vs the best batting side of the tournament. I do know everybody has watched that final, and if you haven’t watched the Vevo IPL 2016 final, then all I can say is this:

A moment of silence for those who have missed the IPL 2016 final.

Anyway, a Google search would tell you that SRH are the champions of the 2016 IPL and I do not care what people think about Royal Challengers Bangalore and what they call our team. “Chokers” was the name which was going around the next day on Facebook, I think.

You know, what people fail to realize is that if your opposition scores 200+ in the FINAL of a tournament, the chances that you win drop by 80%. And not only that, the probability of your entire team collapsing before 160 is 85%. This is due to the enormous pressure on the team which has to not only chase the target down, but also WIN the cup! And the very idea of WINNING THE CUP can make a lot of lads nervous.

Yet, the Royal Challengers managed to make 200/6 in the 20 overs quota. This meant that we lost by a margin of just EIGHT RUNS! Yes, how much a difference does eight runs make is now clear to all. People call Watson as the villain simple because he conceded 61 runs in 4 overs without extracting any wickets. Considering he is the third highest wicket taker for us in this year’s IPL, I think it is too harsh to blame him. Yes, he gave away too many runs, but come on, anybody can have a bad day out there. Cricket is funny game, remember?

I personally feel that the reason RCB lost was because Virat decided to lead the chase after hitting a few boundaries that just managed to cross the fielders. He didn’t look at his best tonight, but he was getting there. I think he decided to go for the attack too early. AB de Villiars had just walked in to the center after the Gaylestorm, and it was only sensible to keep rotating the strike because the required run rate had now come down to 9 point something from a 11. It was pretty chasable. But no, Virat decided to attack and as a result he got bowled soon. AB, for God knows what, decided to attack the spinner and threw away his wicket as if he was least bothered about today’s game, which of course, I know is abosolutely NOT the case, as we saw him lifting the team up before the match began telling them, “WE WILL WIN NO MATTER THE COST”.

Even if either Kohli or AB would have stayed, the cup could have been ours. But nevertheless, SRH were a better team from the start and they deserved the cup more than us, no doubt about that. Kudos to the entire team, and especially to David Warner who brought out his Captaincy Skills such craftedly.

IPL will be back next year and it is said that all players would go into the Auction Pool. If that happens, we would lose Gayle, Virat, and AB. I do not know how that would feel. As I said, we have an emotional connection with the team, especially these three and no matter which team they go to, we would always back their team. And that doesn’t mean we would forget the rebuilt RCB. We are true RCBians and we stick together no matter what. I hope they don’t finalize this decision. Instead, they could just stick with the maximum retainment policy of 2 Indians and 2 Oversees players. In any case, we just want RCB to win the cup, at least once.

We love you, and will always do. Thank you for playing the most bold, passionate, and entertaining cricket out there, and thank you for not losing hope and always giving your best. May God allow you to win next year!

Let’s appreciate how RCB turned things around and managed to reach the finals.
If Leonardo can finally win an Oscar, then even RCB can win an IPL season.

Source: RCB Official Website

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