RCB's Karnataka players revel in home conditions

Royal Challengers Bangalore has ridden a tidal wave of support at the M. Chinnaswamy Stadium — A.B. de Villiers on Tuesday said it was the loudest crowd he’d ever played before — on its way to the IPL final.

To RCB’s Karnataka contingent, the trio of S. Arvind, Stuart Binny and K. L. Rahul, fixtures at this venue are ‘home’ matches in more ways than one.   -  g. p. sampath kumar

Royal Challengers Bangalore has ridden a tidal wave of support at the M. Chinnaswamy Stadium — A.B. de Villiers on Tuesday said it was the loudest crowd he’d ever played before — on its way to the IPL final. To RCB’s Karnataka contingent, the trio of S. Arvind, Stuart Binny and K.L. Rahul, fixtures at this venue are ‘home’ matches in more ways than one.

“We’ve grown up playing cricket here,” Rahul said here on Friday. “There’s nothing more satisfying than to play for your home team. It’s my first IPL final and it happens to be at home.”

Binny admitted that being in a final here was a special feeling. “When I was bought in the auction, I jumped out of my chair because I always wanted to play for RCB. Bengaluru is home to me. It’s something that struck me during the first match here. When I walked out to play, I had a lot of pride,” he said.

Arvind added: “This is my fifth year for RCB. As a local guy, I’m proud to be here.”

RCB’s turnaround has been remarkable, from winning two of the first seven matches to sweeping seven of the next eight. “It was simple,” said Binny. “We knew exactly where we were and what we had to do. Talk was not going to be enough. Virat [Kohli] was clear with how he wanted us to play: go out and express ourselves. We got our strategies and combinations right, and we did it.”

Thereafter, confidence among the players grew exponentially with each win, Rahul stated. “Once you start winning, you stop thinking: ‘What if we do this wrong?’ or ‘What if we don’t click?’ There is never a doubt in our minds. Even right now, in our heads we have already won the tournament. It’s just about going there and putting our plans into place on Sunday,” he said.

The 24-year-old drew parallels between RCB’s barnstorming run and Karnataka’s recent successive Ranji Trophy victories. “In any format, peaking at the right time is important,” he said. “We experienced that when we won the Ranji Trophy two years in a row (2013-14 and 2014-15).

“The first time, we had a bad start to the season; 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. When you’re nowhere and you end up in the top two, it brings the team together.”

There was the expectation, Binny admitted, of delivering RCB its first IPL title in nine years of trying. “I wouldn’t call it pressure, but, yes, everyone wants to win,” he said. “We have the upper hand playing at home, for sure. We know the conditions; we know exactly what needs to be done. There’s no pressure; there’s just good confidence.”