It was after a disappointing loss to CSK, our third on the trot after having won the first game against KTK, that reality sunk in. A few of us friends were at a bar and having a drink and we were dejected and angry that the top management had not retained top performers like Ross Taylor, Steyn, Dravid, Robin ..... We had gloom written over all our faces! But still, we did not lose faith and sat there discussing what could turn the fortunes for RCB and hoping that we won the 8 games required to seal a semifinal spot. A friend mocked at me and said, “You still have hopes on RCB this season?” I replied in the affirmative and said, “We have bounced back before and will do it again.”
Enter CHRIS GAYLE!! It was at the same bar and on the same gloomy evening that a friend of mine messaged me saying that he got reliable inside information that RCB were signing up Chris Gayle. That brought a smile on my face and another drink went down. But there was no news about it, not on cricinfo, not on the RCB website and not on any newspaper or channel. A few days passed and finally we got official confirmation that Gayle had indeed signed up. From the moment he stepped onto the field against the Knight Riders in the Eden Gardens, RCB was a different team. ‘INTERGAYLEACTIC’, ‘GAYLEVANISED’, ‘GAYLE MORNING’ were now everyday language. GAYLE was now being used as the superlative of every word. A girl would understand if a guy came upto her and said, “I GAYLE you, GAYLEHEART”. The DLF IPL and India was hit by the GAYLESTORM. He came in with the bat, smashed the ball around and embarrassed many a bowler. He came in with the ball, bowled economically, got crucial wickets and put in a dance step bringing smiles on all our faces. He was surely enjoying his cricket. Thank you West Indies Cricket Board.
It is difficult but we must remember that it was not just Gayle. There were crucial performances from all our players at various stages in the tournament. Virat Kohli seemed to be in sublime form and is probably ready to adopt Bangayleore as his home. Vettori proved to be the ideal replacement for Anil Kumble and on a bad day, only on a bad day would he go above 7 runs per over. Arvind showed us that with a big heart, you can do wonders on the field. Zaheer Khan was a bit rusty at the beginning but came into his own gradually. AB was a livewire and his energy rubbed off on the rest. Driven by Gayle, this RCB unit rolled on, beating team after team, quite easily and finished the league stage at the top of the table.
Gayle failed and CSK did beat us in that first play-off. We next had Mumbai Indians on our platter, a team which had got the better of us more often than not. But it was to be different this time – Malinga, Harbhajan, Pollard and whoever dared to bowl that day were put to the sword by namma Chris Gayle. Young Mayank Agarwal too played a very mature knock and in no time RCB had crushed Mumbai Indians and qualified for our 2nd Final. What happened in the Finals is unfortunate but it has to be said that we must be thrilled to be RCBians.
Let’s take a pledge that we will be ‘Royal Challengers for Life’ and let me hear you all say “JAI RCB!”