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Ahead of IPL, RCB’s homecoming was a catharsis for fans

The Royal Challengers Bangalore (RCB) men’s team is back on its home turf after three long years, and fans cannot keep calm!

Ahead of IPL, RCB’s homecoming was a catharsis for fans

Tuesday March 28, 2023 , 4 min Read

RCB…RCB…RCB!

The pavements outside Bengaluru’s M Chinnaswamy Stadium roared with enthusiastic fans of the Royal Challengers Bangalore (RCB) men’s team on Sunday, March 26.  

At RCB Unbox 2.0—a curated event to allow fans to experience the IPL excitement—fans could not contain their excitement seeing the team back on home ground after three years. 

Some showered their support by wearing the team’s jersey while others painted their faces in RCB’s colours of yellow, red, and gold, and some carried the team’s flag and hand-painted posters. Whistles and hoots followed as the team practised in front of the 12th Man Army—a term coined for RCB’s fans. 

RCB Unbox

Excitement among fans at M. Chinnaswamy Stadium (Image Courtesy: RCB)

First held last year to celebrate its legacy of 14 years, the Unbox event lets fans catch their favourite players live and witness the team’s new jersey get unveiled.

The excitement was palpable and the cheers deafening when Virat Kohli or Glenn Maxwell hit a sixer out of the stadium. One ball from Kohli almost hit the media box! 

After the practice match, fans grooved to performances by Tulsi Kumar, Aditi Singh Sharma, and rock band Thermal and a Quarter. Renowned music artists Sonu Nigam and Jason Derulo headlined the event. 

One of the many surprising moments was when bowler Harshal Patel came on stage with his guitar and joined the Thermal and a Quarter to play two songs—Brain Damage and Eclipse—from the band’s album Dark Side of the Moon. 

“I was more nervous than when playing cricket because I have never played the guitar in front (of so many people) except my teacher Bruce, my wife, and my son. It was my first-ever gig in front of 25,000 people, and it was incredible,” Harshal said in a video posted by RCB.

RCB Unbox

Bowler Harshal Patel with rock band Thermal and a Quarter (Image Courtesy: RCB)

Also gracing the event was Mr Nags—comedian Danish Sait—for the RCB Insider Show doing a ground report on the event and speaking to the players, donning his iconic attire. Besides, the newly formed RCB women’s team was also present to mark the occasion.

However, the highlight of the evening was the induction of former RCB players—Chris Gayle and AB de Villiers—into the RCB Hall of Fame, a coveted list of franchise members. 

“I have so many fun memories of playing at the Chinnaswamy Stadium for RCB… It feels like a homecoming for me, and it was a delight to reconnect with the team, the players, and above all, the fans. The ‘RCB, RCB!’ chant will always stay with me,” Gayle said as he thanked the team. He also charmed fans with a little dance to Gangnam Style.

ABD, who was with his family, said, “It is a massively touching gesture by RCB to induct me into the Hall of Fame, and it has a very special place in my heart. I have missed the atmosphere at the Chinnaswamy Stadium, and it was enthralling for me to relieve all those experiences once more during the RCB Unbox.”

As a mark of respect, RCB retired the jerseys of ABD (17) and Gayle (333) forever from its roster. 

RCB Unbox

Former RCB players AB de Villiers and Chris Gayle greeting fans (Image Courtesy: RCB)

For fans of the team—including me—since their debut in 2008, the Unbox event felt like catharsis. 

Cheers poured in as players—new and old—took a lap around the stadium. 

Besides the induction ceremony, RCB unveiled its new jersey with Qatar Airways, marking the beginning of a three-year long-term partnership with the airline as the team’s principal partner in a deal reportedly worth $9.15 million.

What’s new? 

This year, RCB also introduced innovative concepts in Indian sports—the RCB Innovation Lab and its Go Green Initiative—to make its fan base a part of a larger movement, besides spanning into fitness, athleisure, and FMCG. 

The lab aims to shape the future of sports by driving performance improvement and excellence on and off the field, including RCB’s foray into sports edtech and R&D through startup accelerator programmes with sports tech and healthtech accelerators. 

RCB Unbox

(L-R) Mo Bobat, Performance Consultant, RCB; Rajesh Menon, Head & VP, RCB; Abhishek Humbad, Founder and CEO, Goodera; Laura McQueen, Managing Director, Leaders. (Image Courtesy: RCB)

As an IPL team that claims to be carbon positive, it also announced steps to achieve carbon neutrality, with a greener stadium, lake restoration, and green schools through its green initiative. 

Towards the end, the players donned their new jerseys ahead of the upcoming IPL, which will commence on March 31 at the Narendra Modi Stadium in Ahmedabad. 

In the first match, RCB, captained by Faf du Plessis, will lock horns with Mumbai Indians on its home ground Chinnaswamy Stadium on April 2.


Edited by Saheli Sen Gupta