Bangalore v Rajasthan, IPL 2013, Bangalore April 21, 2013

Bangalore's annual loyalty test

The Bangalore crowd switched its loyalties temporarily to cheer on Rajasthan Royals' captain, Rahul Dravid

Over the last three seasons, ever since Rahul Dravid made his way to Rajasthan Royals, the Bangalore crowd has had its loyalty tested once every IPL. Last year was particularly poignant. Royal Challengers Bangalore took on Royals a month after Dravid had retired from international cricket and he was given a rousing reception when he came on to the ground. This time, the scene was no different.

Amid a sea of red flags, fans supporting the home side drowned out Dravid's voice at the toss. The entire stadium chanted his name in unison, cheering when his name was flashed on the giant screen as the teams were shown.

They cheered when he walked out to bat and egged him on through his slow start, temporarily switching their loyalties to applaud the five fours he hit. A 10-year-old seated behind me anxiously wondered why Stuart Binny would not give Dravid more of the strike.

In the lead-up to the match against Royal Challengers, Dravid's leadership was gathering plenty of praise. It was innovative, fresh and aggressive, and he had led Royals, a side lacking in big names, to the top of the points table. There were some interesting moves - from playing five seamers on a home track against Kolkata Knight Riders, to demoting himself down the order in favour of Dishant Yagnik and good use of a talented but low-profile bowling attack.

With that context, it was hard not to look back at the first season of the IPL in 2008, when he led Royal Challengers. The side finished seventh and his captaincy was roundly criticised by everyone from the team owners to the ordinary fan. Few remember, though, that he was the only Royal Challengers batsman to score more than 300 runs in the season. The next year, Dravid was replaced at the helm by Kevin Pietersen and then Anil Kumble.

He hasn't been at his most prolific at the Chinnaswamy Stadium. In the 16 international matches that he has played, across all formats, Dravid has scored 529 runs at an average of 26.45. His record in the IPL hasn't been too great either. Before the match, he had 248 runs in 15 matches.

In the end, Dravid managed just 35 and fell trying to get his team's innings going. After he holed out to long-on, he did not walk out to glum silence or nostalgia-tinged applause. It was a full-throated roar by the entire stadium at the fall of the opposition's captain. The fans, having cheered Dravid's innings lustily, got back to enjoying a Royal Challengers victory that put the home team on top of the table.

Rachna Shetty is a senior sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Avinash on April 23, 2013, 8:38 GMT

    Well if you come to will see them having Loyalty for Cricket.. You should see the reception for Adam Gilchrist , ponting and even jayawardane for that matter... Cos in bangalore we respect the gentlemen of the game and will always be

  • Dummy4 on April 22, 2013, 11:37 GMT

    Being a Bangalorean and an ardent fan of RCB as well as Rahul Dravid, I was in splits as to who I support on the day they collide. I just tweeted saying, "may the best team win today's game" and it turned out that RCB was the best team on given day.

  • Nirjhar on April 21, 2013, 19:44 GMT

    What more can fans want where you can cheer favourite players of both teams while still wanting one of the teams to win. Preferred teams wary within families!!

    Fans enjoy his aggressive batting and that amazing catch.

    Dravid is the best T20 captain in this Pepsi IPL.

    In IPL1 he had to contend with too many TEST stars and ended up consulting them and thus..."too many cooks spoil the broth". Last year he lived under the shadow of Shane Warne. Now he is in full flow as coach and mentor with no interference from anyone.

    His observations, team changes are a joy to watch. Having won two away games against Delhi and Punjab and tough home games against fancied sides like Mumbai and KKR, I am sure RR will make the top 4 and play Champions league. One of CSK, MI, RCB and KKR are going to be out due to RR.

    IPL is a great tournament allowing fans to watch retired legends like Dravid, Ponting, Gilchrist perform while many like Sir Viv can share ideas with current players.


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