Indian Premier League was announced in 2008. Players were auctioned. At the auction table were Charu Sharma and Rahul Dravid who helped Vijay Mallya pick a brigade of challenging players to represent Bangalore at India’s first IPL that was to be held in 2008 (correct me if I am wrong). Jacques Kallis was our most expensive player. A grand opening ceremony in Bangalore set the expectations for everyone across the country and abroad. As millions of Indians watched it on their television sets, they rejoiced and eagerly waited to see their icons combine with foreign players and represent their respective domestic league teams.
Bangalore’s Royal Challengers played their first match on the day of the inauguration against Kolkata Knight Riders. KKR thrashed our poor RCB players mercilessly. Brendon Mccullum gave our bowlers a nightmare. From Zaheer Khan to Sunil Joshi, everyone was wondering what the hell was to be done to stop the destruction and make the home crowd feel a little better. RCB then had a lot of local talent as well.
The season went by. RCB’s CEO Charu Sharma was sacked. Brijesh Patel was brought in. Everyone blamed Dravid (the captain) for poor selection. We were the second to get out of IPL after winning just 4 out of 14 played. Then came the second season.
It was a dream come true for many Bangaloreans. Our team bounced back. Kallis, Kumble and Dravid were our pillars of strength. The venues had shifted to South Africa and since we had a decent number of South Africans in the team, we had great support there as well. Kevin Pietersen , the highest bid of IPL, was bought by RCB. He led our team for the first 6 matches. I know a few fellow Bangaloreans who had even stopped supporting the team before of its consistent poor performance. Mid way Anil Kumble took over. Since then, there was no looking back for the team.
A few young players received recognition – Manish Pandey (who though played for Bangalore in the Ranji was not with RCB in the first season), Sreevats Goswami and a couple others. Akhil and Chipli were given a game here and there. Joshi was out. JAK was in the squad but hardly played. Kumble was heralded for leading his team to the finals. Dravid was back in form and proved critics wrong. Kumble, Kallis and Dravid made a statement – IPL was just for the young. It was for everyone who loved the game, who knew the game and who was tactical. Back at home, there was a huge fan following that the team had built for itself. RCB lost to Deccan Chargers in the final and suddenly I developed a huge hatred towards DC (like most Bangaloreans). I started to like Jessie Ryder, Ross Taylor and Rudolf Van der Merwe.
Season 3 saw the hatred towards DC grow. I began to pass comments about Andrew Symonds who I remember, irked Manish Pandey in the finals of the second season. I was hoping we would get back at DC. Well, we did. Though they beat us twice, they were out of the CL T20 because of us. We hit back and did so at the right time! I loved RCB. Ross Taylor, Dravid, Kallis, Kumble, Vinay Kumar, Appanna, Pandey, Steyn, Praveen Kumar, Robin Uthappa, Virat Kohli, White, Pietersen, Boutcher, Akhil and every other member of the RCB team was now my favourite. If an India v/s SA match or India V/s NZ match was on, I would support every RCB player instead of my home country. That was the impact that team RCB had on me.
January 8th and 9th 2011 saw the auction happen again. RCB had decided to retain only Virat Kohli (which had already pissed me off). Everyone else was out. Kumble was just a mentor now (though Kumble opted out on his own). The thought of not seeing Kumble lead the team was depressing enough for me. The auction made it worse. No Vinay Kumar, no Taylor, no Kalli, no Dravid, no Uthappa, no Pandey, no Boutcher. I hate to think of RCB sans these people.
I dislike my new team. I have no clue if I will even support the new team. For me, Dravid, Kumble and Kallis were like the pillars of RCB. To even think that Dravid will now be playing for Rajasthan Royals is beyond me. I console myself saying, his franchise is still owned by a Mangalorean. It’s still ok. But hell, I HATE it. Kumble has official retired from all forms of cricket now. However, this didn’t really translate into big news. I will not get to see this great man stare at his fielders when there is a misfield or when someone hits him for a six. His fighting spirit will be missed.
I want my RCB back. For me, RCB is still the old team. The team owners are however geared up with the new team. The website’s updated already. I am not sure if a fan would have to re register on their fan page. It looks worse than before. Seeing Kumble, Dravid and Kallis on the website was so common. Now, it’s gone. Even the cached page doesn’t really seem nice. I however am listing a few cached pages for anyone who wants to take a re look at what was a true phenomenon.
RCB was a team that had a lot of local talent. This made me want to cheer for it even more. Now, there is hardly any local player. Every RCB fan will surely miss his/her old team. Team RCB, I used to love you.