Virat Kohli and Royal Challengers Bangalore (RCB): A love story made in heaven. Virat Kohli has played for same franchise since the inception of the Indian Premier League (IPL).
An association that began from the inception of IPL in 2008, Virat Kohli and the Royal Challengers Bangalore (RCB) share a special bond. And fans and Kohli just could not shake off the love for each other.
What is the first name that comes to your mind when you talk about the IPL franchise, Royal Challengers Bangalore? Virat Kohli, right? Kohli has given 16 years of his life to this franchise. No other player has played for just one franchise for so long. Yes, not even Chennai Super Kings captain MS Dhoni, who has played for Rising Pune Supergiant for two seasons after CSK was banned in the aftermath of the spot-fixing scandal.
Impossible to separate Kohli from RCB
This 16-year-old association between Kohli and RCB has created a deep bond between not only them but also with Kohli and RCB fans, who have made Kohli their very own despite the Indian batter being a Delhi boy.
Now, Kohli enjoys such an aura with RCB that it is literally impossible to divide the two. Just like how Sachin, who was born and raised in Mumbai, continues to be a mentor for Mumbai Indians even after spending all his IPL cricketing days with them.
Kohli himself has asserted that he cannot think of being part of any other franchise other than RCB. In a video chat with ex-RCB teammate AB de Villiers, Kohli admitted that “there is no way or any scenario I can think of leaving this team because of the love and care the franchise and fans have shown…to have that loyalty with Bangalore, RCB, it is quite surreal. Till the time I play, I’m never going to leave this team. No chance, and in any situation.”
And the fans just love Virat Kohli for this loyalty of his, despite RCB not winning a single IPL trophy, and being the losing finalists not once or twice but thrice, with Kohli featuring in all those heart-breaking losses in the title round. It could be because fans have trust in Kohli that the batter and ex-RCB captain is giving his all for his team although the results have not been in their favour or an IPL title has still been elusive. Hence, despite the barren cabinet, RCB fans keep coming back to support RCB and Kohli, shouting the slogan, “Ee Sala Cup Namde” (This year, the cup is ours) season after season.
IPL 2016 – Kohli’s dream season
No further proof is required to prove Kohli’s loyalty to RCB when days after splitting his webbing, he turned up to hit a ton in 15 overs for his team in the 2016 IPL against Kings XI Punjab (Now Punjab Kings). In that season, Kohli was in the zone, hitting as many as four tons, and 973 runs - the most runs by any player in any IPL tournament.
The runs flowed at an average of 81.08 and a strike rate of 152.03 in 16 matches. But alas, RCB fell on the final hurdle, losing the title round to SRH by just 8 runs.
But since that day, Kohli has been turning up every season for RCB in the hope he can help his team lift the trophy. He gave up RCB captaincy to focus on his batting and contribute more with the bat. No doubt, Kohli is a great team man, rejoicing in his teammate’s achievements and bringing in the same infectious energy every time he comes out to bat or field.
RCB victory – Kohli’s priority
In the last game against Lucknow Super Giant in the ongoing IPL 2023, Kohli was so animated and so desperate for a win that he celebrated every catch, and every wicket as his own. His energy lifted the team to defend a small total of 126/9 against LSG. Also, the game against LSG proved that the love between RCB and Kohli goes beyond Karnataka borders as there were more RCB fans cheering for Bangalore and Kohli than local supporters for LSG in Lucknow.
Another way to gauge fans’ love for Kohli was when Kohli stood as stand-in captain at home in M Chinnaswamy Stadium in Bengaluru in place of Faf du Plessis, who turned up just as Impact Player to take it a bit easy as he was recovering from a rib injury. The crowd roared when Kohli took the mike during the toss to cheer for their favourite adopted son. And like every time, when Kohli lost his wicket, there was a stunned silence on the ground. In the last season, Kohli was going through a rough patch, getting out continuously for low scores, but the fans didn’t leave him and kept supporting him throughout just like how Kohli has been loyal to RCB for 16 years and counting.
A total of 234 matches and counting for a single team in IPL is no easy feat, and it goes on to prove Kohli and RCB are a love story made in heaven where not even the drought of an IPL title or the yearly permutations and combinations the fans do for RCB to qualify for play-offs is enough to stop the RCB fans for cheering for one of the most loved sons of Karnataka – The Virat Kohli.