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IPL: RCB's ‘Fight Club’ Resurgence – Free to Do Anything After Losing Everything

IPL 2024: RCB's resurgence resembles a Fight Club proposition, having played with freedom after losing everything.

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Should Royal Challengers Bengaluru’s (RCB) redemption arc be encapsulated in a solitary moment, which flawlessly portrays the team’s impeccable resurgence, which moment would you pick?

Will it be Virat Kohli’s precise throw from deep extra-cover against Punjab Kings, to dismiss an in-form Shashank Singh, and then his jubilant sprint? 

But it is barely novel. He is, after all, Virat Kohli.

Will it be Faf du Plessis’ flying one-handed stunner at mid-off to dismiss Mitchell Santner against Chennai Super Kings?

But it is barely novel. He is, afterall, Faf du Plessis.

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Perhaps the most accurate selection would be the second delivery of the last over of that very match. Chennai, the five-time champions, needed 11 runs to qualify in five deliveries. 

On strike was Mahendra Singh Dhoni. He had been in that situation a gazillion times previously, and on gazillion minus one occasions, he took his team over the line. He dispatched the last delivery to the Cubbon Road, triggering a further spike in an already dire situation of heavy traffic. A better prologue for the perfect swansong could not have been scripted. Another six, and he will inch ever so close to his sixth IPL title.

Alas! What transpired was anti-climactic. Dhoni mistimed a slower delivery and was caught at deep backward square. Inside the M Chinnaswamy Stadium – pandemonium. In every other part of the nation – stupefaction.

The Two Architects Who Had Nothing More To Lose

The two architects of Dhoni’s downfall – Yash Dayal, the bowler, and Swapnil Singh, the fielder – might have taken a cue from Chuck Palahniuk’s ‘Fight Club.’ For, they knew, and believed, what Tyler Durden had said – ‘It is only after we have lost everything that we are free to do anything.’

Yash Dayal had experienced the loss of the metaphorical ‘everything’ when he could not defend 28 runs in the final over against Kolkata Knight Riders last season, conceding five consecutive sixes to Rinku Singh. Journeyman Swapnil Singh was on the verge of losing everything, contemplating retirement prior to being signed by RCB.

It was only after Dayal and Swapnil had nothing more to lose that they started winning. And with them, their team. 

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1% Chance, 99% Magic

Today (22 May), in the Eliminator of the 2024 Indian Premier League (IPL), RCB will be competing against Rajasthan Royals. A month ago, the two teams were placed at the opposite ends of the spectrum in the standings. With seven wins in eight, RR were first. With seven defeats in eight, RCB were last. The Prometheus and the prodigal son of IPL.

The prediction systems had provision for only about a 1% chance of RCB’s playoffs qualification. But, speaking to the women’s team last year, Virat Kohli said:

There is a one per cent chance, and sometimes that chance is good enough. But what matters is what you think about that one per cent. Are you willing to give absolutely everything that you have to make that one into 10 and then grow that 10 into 30? Eventually, something magical might come out of it.
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The Magical Comeback

The ‘magical’ part commenced from the next match. Here's how:

  • Match 9

RCB defeated Sunrisers Hyderabad by 35 runs. Player of the match was Rajat Patidar, who had a terrible first half.

  • Match 10

RCB defeated Gujarat Titans by 9 wickets, with four overs to spare. Player of the match was Will Jacks, who spent the first half watching the game from the nosebleeds.

  • Match 11

RCB defeated GT by 4 wickets, with 6.2 overs to spare. Player of the match was Mohammed Siraj, who even had to endure the embarrassment of being dropped from the team, despite being the only Indian pacer with T20I experience.

  • Match 12

RCB defeated PBKS by 60 runs. Player of the match was Virat Kohli for his 92, but more importantly, at a strike rate of 195.74, after being – on national television, time and again, relentlessly – criticised for his strike rate.

  • Match 13

RCB beat DC by 47 runs. Player of the match was Cameron Green, who, for the majority of the season, was offering stern competition to Hardik Pandya for the people’s choice award of the season’s worst trade.

  • Match 14

RCB beat CSK by 27 runs. Player of the match was Faf du Plessis, a former CSK player, whose allegiance would have been questioned should his team lost.

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RCB Are Strangers to the Dread of Defeat

Beyond the whole, that is, the six victories, are the sum of its minuscule, yet crucial parts. The RCB resurgence has been constructed bit by bit with individual resurgences aplenty, from players who were written off for the season and outwith.

The Dayals, the Swapnils, the Patidars, the Greens, who had no business playing the way they did, audaciously knocking among the tournament’s more successful teams off their perch, but they did it anyway. Having lost everything, they were free to do anything.

The battle will not be easy against Rajasthan Royals. Despite the nascent slump, what captain Sanju Samson has in his arsenal is a well-rounded assemblage of individuals who have experience and know-how, with no glaring weaknesses in any department.

After all that they have done, RCB’s campaign could end in a few hours time. But the dread of defeat should not bother them. For, they had lost everything long ago. Now, they are free to do anything.

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