All eyes on RCB as IPL bash begins

Skipper of Royal Challengers Bangalore (RCB) Virat Kohli and team-mate Moeen Ali during a practice session ahead of IPL 2019 at MAC Stadium in Chennai on Friday. PTI

Bitter defeats dot Royal Challengers Bangalore’s record in the Indian Premier League. But if sporting trends are anything to go by, Virat Kohli’s men could well have the last laugh this season in the country’s favourite cricketing fiesta beginning here on Saturday.

Teams from Bengaluru have been unstoppable this season in different sporting arenas. The title spree began with kabaddi. The Bengaluru Bulls won their first crown in the Pro Kabaddi League in January. There was good news for badminton fans when Bengaluru Raptors clinched their maiden Pro Badminton League trophy in the same month.

Bengaluru FC, a team that has conquered I-League, Federation Cup and Super Cup, then stepped up to tick the box by capturing the Indian Super League crown last week with an authoritative display.

Teams from Karnataka were not to be left behind. In volleyball — a sport dominated by Kerala, Punjab and Railways — Karnataka emerged the best side in the senior nationals.

The ardent Karnataka cricket supporters, left dejected after their team’s second successive semifinal exit in Ranji Trophy, had reasons to smile soon after.

The Manish Pandey-led side produced a terrific 12-match unbeaten streak to add the Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy to Karnataka’s cabinet.  

The Royal Challengers Bangalore (RCB) were one of the first franchise sides to be embraced unabashedly by the people of the city and as the two-month cricketing extravaganza begins, the onus is indeed on them to break their 12-year-long duck.

As teams from other sports broke their title jinx, cries of “It’s RCB’s turn next” began gaining momentum on social media platforms. Disappointed by RCB’s result last year, fans began using their popular slogan “Ee Sala Cup Namde” to support other teams like BFC and Bengaluru Bulls.  

But to judge a team’s chances based on the enormous expectations isn’t entirely right, says RCB skipper Virat Kohli. “Last year, there was so much talk about ‘Ee Sala Cup Namde’. I don’t know how we got associated with that punch line. We had nothing to do with it. Look, at the end of the day, we have to play good cricket. There is no rocket science to this. It doesn’t matter if a football team won or a kabbadi team won. Each sport is different,” Kohli said on the eve of the opening IPL match against Chennai Super Kings.
Kohli stressed on being realistic. “We cannot live in a paradise. We have to be realistic as there are seven other teams. We will be brave and we will take on any situation. Sometimes, results go in our way. Nobody expected us to reach the final in 2016 but we did. So that’s how it works,” Kohli explained.

While a title will be icing on the Bengaluru cake, die-hard followers of the Royal Challengers would want their team to produce a fighting show. Then perhaps, even if RCB fail to lay hands on the trophy, fans can chant a slogan that’s also a name of a café in Mandya: next sala cup namde (The cup is ours next time).

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All eyes on RCB as IPL bash begins

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