Home is where Royal Challengers' hopes lie

Home is where Royal Challengers' hopes lie

What Chepauk is to Chennai Super Kings, Chinnaswamy is to Royal Challengers Bangalore. A fortress where they are secure and opponents feel intimidated.

It is not hard to see why Royal Challengers are so optimistic about their Sunday’s IPL-7 clash against Sunrisers Hyderabad, despite losing their last three matches in UAE.

Whether it is their legion of fans who scream their hearts out or the general vibe in the stadium, Royal Challengers assume gigantic proportions here. That they won seven out of eight matches in the last edition at Chinnaswamy is ample reflection of their dominance at this venue. After three losses, the embattled Challengers could not have asked for a better place to start their India leg.

“It’s a lovely feeling to be back in Bangalore. It’s something that all team members are enjoying. The new guys might not know the kind of cricket we have played in this stadium and the atmosphere we have experienced. AB (de Villiers) and I know what kind of feeling it is to perform on this ground, in front of this home crowd,” said skipper Virat Kohli, who is now as much a Bangalorean as he is a Delhiite.

Of course, Kohli, who has been with the Bangalore side right from the first edition, shares a special bond with the City but the likes of Chris Gayle and AB de Villiers have quickly become popular with their contrasting yet entertaining brand of cricket. “It’s very noisy (smiles),” said Kohli when asked what makes Chinnaswamy so special for the team.

“Maybe it’s built in a way that it seems loud, but on a serious note, the kind of support we get here — even in the first year, when we didn’t do well at all, people came out here and supported us. When we play the brand of cricket that people know RCB can play, the crowds really back us. People have seen how loud it gets here — noisy and red flags waving all around. They understand the game, very importantly. They are very nice, generous people and that sort of support is always welcomed by players. It’s an absolute lovely feeling to play in this stadium,” he offered.

This is the first time in seven years of the IPL that Challengers will not have a single homegrown player in their ranks, but the support they enjoy here is unlikely to dwindle.

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