Royal Challengers Bengaluru’s players celebrate after the dismissal of Mumbai Indians’ Rohit Sharma during the Indian Premier League Twenty20 cricket match at the Wankhede Stadium in Mumbai on April 11, 2024. RCB’s campaign has floundered, losing six of the first seven games. Image Credit: AFP

I love the Royal Challengers Bengaluru. They are languishing at the bottom of the points table in the Indian Premier League, but it doesn’t matter. Bengaluru is still my team, and I’ll continue to back them.

With RCB, every season begins with hope before despair sets in. Between hope and despair, there’s euphoria. That’s what fans live for. That’s why I have continued to back the Red and Gold squad ever since the Indian T20 franchise cricket started in 2008.

In 16 years of IPL, the RCB trophy cabinet remained barren. This season won’t be any different after losing six of the first seven games. Even a major turnaround is unlikely to put them in the last-four phase unless there’s a miracle.

What RCB fans should do

RCB started the year brightly, with Smriti Mandana leading them to victory in the Women’s Premier League. As Bengaluru basked in glory, I hoped the win would spur the men’s team. The loss to the Chennai Super Kings in the opener was expected because Chepauk is the CSK fortress. A win in the second game raised my spirits, but those two points are the only ones in the RCB bag.

It’s easy to be disappointed after a string of losses. That happens. After all, fans are emotional. Logic and common sense go out of the window, and blind belief takes over when you are passionate about a team. So is the case with RCB fans.

Look at the English Premier League or the National Football League in the United States: some teams haven’t won any silverware, and that doesn’t stop them from trying year after year with full support from their fans. That’s passion. Genuine passion for the club and the game. RCB should take heart from them and try harder; every game and every season is an opportunity to do better.

Fans, we rejoice at every victory and anguish over every loss. True, some of the vitriol on social media is unjustified, but the bitter criticism also reflects the supporters’ love for the team. The defeats won’t stop the fans from coming to the RCB games; they will pack the M. Chinnaswamy Stadium in the hope of a change in fortunes.

Who’s an RCB fan?

Who’s an RCB fan? Everyone in Bengaluru is an RCB fan; by extension, everyone in Karnataka must be an RCB backer. I’m neither. I’m a Keralite living in Dubai and praying for an RCB win. How’s that? That’s because I’ve lived in Bengaluru for 10 years and developed a huge affinity for the city. I have also played a few games at the Chinnaswamy Stadium for the Press Club of Bangalore team. Enough reason to be a lifetime RCB supporter.

It’s been a frustrating experience. Bengaluru have always flattered to deceive: comprehensive wins tend to be followed by inexplicable losses, which undermine their chances of a place in the last-four knockout stage. Even AB de Villiers’ superhuman efforts couldn’t fetch RCB the trophy. Virat Kohli’s fiery leadership wasn’t enough, and a change in captain didn’t help, although Faf du Plessis has led the team admirably.

A captain is only as good as the players in the team. Du Plessis’ brilliant batting is backed well by Kohli’s steady strokeplay, but RCB lacks a strong spine. Dinesh Karthik plays a lone hand in the middle order, where Glen Maxwell’s absence is glaring. Despite that, RCB have batted well, but haven’t been good enough to win.

Virat Kohli
Royal Challengers Bengaluru’s plays a shot during the Indian Premier League Twenty20 cricket match against Sunrisers Hyderabad at the M Chinnaswamy Stadium in Bengaluru on April 15, 2024. Kohli has been one of the leading scorers in IPL this season, but RCB’s fortunes have nosedived. Image Credit: AFP

What's wrong with RCB?

Much of that is due to the poor bowling resources. England’s Reece Topley has been consistent, but the same can’t said of New Zealand’s Lockie Ferguson, who continues to leak runs. There are no quality spinners, which hurts the efforts to control the middle overs. After Harshal Patel’s departure, no one has been able to staunch the run deluge in the slog overs.

All this is not news to RCB fans. We know it. Yet we hope against hope that a win materialises. It just can’t happen.

Cricket is a team game. A handful of stars is not enough to win the title. It takes a well-balanced team to do that. Look at the winning teams of Chennai Super Kings and Mumbai Indians. More than the foreign talents, the wins were fashioned by Indian players. So RCB should build a side with homegrown talents to back the imported stars.

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That requires a change in the mindset of the owners, which is why Indian tennis great Mahesh Bhupathi called for the sale of the franchise. The team has to be built from scratch, and that would require a management with vision. Right now, the team is meandering.

If the women’s team can win, there’s no reason why the men’s squad too can’t be champions. That’s the dream of every RCB fan. That includes me. A trophy would be nice. Really nice.