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New year, same old me

Last updated on 10 Apr 2023 | 11:18 PM
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New year, same old me

From an RCB fan, with love

You know, a lot of people ask me, “Why do you support Royal Challengers Bangalore?” How do I tell them that I don’t have an answer to this. 

I do admire Virat Kohli a lot, but I don’t think that’s what makes me support them. I admire MSD just as much. I might be a Kannadiga, but I’ve lived at least 2500 km away from Bangalore for most of my life. 

During RCB’s “homecoming”, I was busy trying to justify RCB’s competence to myself. Faf’s batting has improved, Kohli’s back to scoring runs, and Siraj is back to taking powerplay wickets. The management has been very consistent in their selections.

Surely, I can’t be wrong in expecting them to do something good this time.

Make no mistake, I’ve been in a toxic relationship with RCB for 15 years. It was best summarized by someone who said, “Their bowling is #*&@, their batting is $#@%, and their fielding is ^%@$” 

On Monday, RCB were in pole position at the end of the seventh over in the second innings. Even Criclytics tells us that there’s just a 4% chance of Lucknow Super Giants winning the game. 

Any RCB fan worth their salt will admit to how they still don’t feel like the game is done. Mind you, that wouldn’t stop them from being positive. They would still be just as vociferous about every wicket, every dot, as though their life depended on it. 

Lo and behold! Our fears came true as we see Marcus Stoinis go berserk, scoring 51 runs off the next 18 balls, before getting out. 

I might have been thrown off a bit by that knock, but I am back to believing. What do I do? Old habits die hard.

In comes Nicholas Pooran. He makes his intentions clear when he tonks a six off his second ball. Having been subjected to Pooran onslaughts before, it was only natural to feel a bit worried. 

I continue to pacify myself, “Naah, this cannot be it. They can’t lose from here, they will get through this.”

Seems like RCB are keen on proving me wrong. The Super Giants score 80 runs in the next five overs and now need just 28 off 24 balls.

The heartbeat’s gone up. I’m trying to process what I’ve just seen. And I still can’t stop thinking of an RCB win. 

Is there any sight more common than an RCB fan praying? I don’t think so. 

Mohammed Siraj manages to get the better of Pooran and swings the game in RCB’s favor, only slightly.

Agony turns into joy, as I start chanting, “Aaar Cee Bee!”

It is now down to 24 runs off 18 balls, and I see Harshal Patel mark his runup.

The armchair critic that I am, I have been harping about Harshal’s lack of yorker attempts the entire game. 

I heave a sigh of relief, as I finally see him attempt a yorker here. And in his very next yorker attempt, Jaydev Unadkat, of all people, has somehow managed to steer it for a four. Full tosses going for wickets, yorkers going for boundaries; it has been that kind of a game. 

The over now ends with LSG still 15 runs short of the target, and still have four wickets remaining.

I’m trying to calm down, but I continue to believe in their win. “Ayush Badoni is their only batter. That cannot be enough,” I mumble. 

Wayne Parnell now comes in to have a go at the batters. A couple of wides and a couple of singles later, Badoni manages to hit a four that all but seals an LSG victory.

The fans seem distraught. You can see a few drooping shoulders on the field as well. You still can’t stop hoping for an RCB victory.

Not sure if you noticed, but belief has now evaporated into hope.

Badoni then nonchalantly scoops the next ball all the way, only to see RCB fielders appealing and cheering. As it turns out, he has been dismissed hit wicket while trying to attempt the scoop.

Wow. I’m just another miracle away from questioning my atheism. I continue cheering, “Come on, RCB!”

It’s now the final over. The pendulum has swung way too many times for my liking. But, that’s what I’ve come to expect of RCB.

A couple of brain fades from either side now simplifies the equation. One run, one ball, one wicket. 

The heartbeat’s never gone down. I am now back to believing. I am already dreaming of a pedestal for Harshal, should he win us this game. 

And the game continues to deliver. Harshal attempts a run out at the non-striker’s end. Better yet, he misses it. Yeah, he has missed it. Sounds impossible, right? Watching it makes it look even more impossible. 

Why do I put myself through this? If nothing else, RCB has helped me work on my existential crisis. Not to forget, they have increased my therapist’s earnings as well. 

He finally gets on top of his mark, he runs in and bowls a yorker. Finally! He lands it. Why are the batters running? Why isn’t the ball being thrown to the bowler’s end? Wait, what? How has Dinesh Karthik missed it?

How else do I describe what I’m going through? This cannot be the end. We can not have lost it like this. How did this not end in a super-over? What happened to Harshal’s pedestal? What do I do with this unrequited love?

As my colleague and a fellow RCB fan while talking about his love rightfully put it, “I am from Nasik, I could have easily supported Mumbai. It is just 150 km away.” But, it is what it is, right?

I don’t know how else to defend Harshal Patel for missing a runout at the non-striker’s end. I don’t know what else to say about Dinesh Karthik’s straightforward miss that gave LSG their winning run.

Say what I may, I know what I am doing when RCB next plays on the 15th. It will be butterflies all over again. There will be more screams. It will cause more despair. But, I will still stand with many more RCB fans and chant, “Aaar Cee Bee!”

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