They’re in striking colours – a combination of red and black. They now play for a side that goes by the name of Royal Challengers Bangalore – a unit that’s more a mix of chips and blocks which have come together in stirring fashion. It is a team that calls the M Chinnaswamy Stadium its home. Karnataka’s KL Rahul, Stuart Binny and Sreenath Arvind have reunited in the instant format, hoping to bring back lost glory just months after Karnataka, champions in three domestic competitions in 2014-15 season, failed to defend their titles.
The gear maybe different, but the goal is the same.
Rahul, hair pulled back in a careless man bun, a far cry from his carefully constructed play, was the first to hold forth on why Royal Challengers are the team to beat in Sunday’s final. “In any format peaking at the right time personally and as a team is very important. We’ve experienced that with the Ranji Trophy, when we won two years in a row. The first season when we won, we had a bad start; the first three games didn’t go our way and then we bounced back and carried that momentum through. Something like that has happened here too.”
“It’s important to regroup and stay strong as a team. When you’re nowhere at one point of time and you end up in the top two, it gives confidence to the team. Players start believing in each other and the friendship and the belief is different.That’s what helps the team become champions,” explained the wicketkeeper-batsman.
Talking about the camaraderie -a key to the team’s success, all-rounder Stuart Binny said, “I hadn’t played with a lot of guys from outside. The team has been tremendous. Even when we were down, there was always talk of us being together, enjoying moments because that’s how you get the best out of people.Not all of us have got chances to play this season, but whatever chances we have got, we have backed each other.” He further added, “Virat was very clear with how he wanted us to play our cricket – go out and express ourselves. We had support away which also helped us to perform. It was clear. We knew what we had to do. We got our strategies and combinations right. We just went out there and expressed ourselves.”
Arvind, a pace force among Bengaluru’s glory boys, chipped in saying, “From where we were in the initial stages, to be here now, we are in the right place. It feels great to be here.”
Binny, a medium-pacer who has opened the bowling for Royal Challengers, was forthright in admitting that spectators come to watch the batsmen and not the bowlers. “People don’t pay money to come and see you get wickets. People pay money to see you get hit out of the ground. We’ve all taken that in our stride. You can discuss batsmen but as a bowler, you still need to go and deliver.”
When asked about the weight of expectations on the three of expectations on the three-time finalists, Binny pointed out, “The motive when we started the season was to reach the final and win. We are here right now. The thoughts are pretty simple. We are not going to put too much pressure on ourselves.We are going to try and carry the momentum that we have had in the last seven games into this game. I wouldn’t’ call it pressure. I would call it good confidence.”
Rahul further added that it is the self-belief and confidence that has seen the team through to the finale. “We go out with the approach saying that we are going to win this. There is never a doubt in our minds. Even right now, in our heads we have already won the tournament. It is just about going there and expressing ourselves and putting our plans in place on Sunday .That is all we are thinking about right now. The confidence we have in the team is sky high,” he concluded.