Gung-ho RCB gather their ammunition before their first match of Champions League 2011 ------------------------------------------------------------
At the dawn of the day, Tilakaratne Dilshan was spotted at the breakfast table. Siddhartha Mallya too joined the ‘congregation’ which now prefers to sit on the tall long table that accommodates about 12 people. Why, even Ray Jennings takes to this table now in preference to his old favourite that was tucked away in the far corner.
Of course, there’s a wide food choice at the team hotel and buffet is the way of things, however, most cricketers keep close tabs on what they consume. The mealtime brings with it an irreplaceable togetherness, the kind of warmth even prehistoric humans have known when they huddle around a fire which cooked their meal and also acted as a bonfire. Well, we survived the ice ages and fierce predators, no less the woolly mammoth, an elephant like creature that had earlier threatened our two-legged species.
How did we? Teamwork. It’s because humans worked as teams, be they the ones where various individuals wielded crude weapons like spears, stones or axes or the modern day entertainment artistes that use bats and balls that they were able to succeed against animals stronger in creation. ‘A team is greater than the sum of its individual parts.’
Well, this Royal Challengers Bangalore outfit owes its success to teamwork, not matter what critics say about strong individual performances. These same individuals would not have a base to fall back on if they didn’t feel the sense of the team.
So, there we were again, the talk revolving around strategy and options, yet remaining open to critical feedback. The main plot for the match would be set at this breakfast and would be refined through the day. Siddhartha Mallya again declared his superstition of avoiding a few things (many actually!) on the day of the match, which meant that it was okay on Thursday, 22nd September to go to the gym, to walk to areas of the hotel etc. All that he would not do on the morrow!
This morning however, brought with it an interesting discussion on tennis. “I love tennis” declared Sid. He then had an animated discussion with the group about “Why indeed do experts say that they’ve discovered the best tennis player in history. What does one need to do to be acknowledged as the per se best ever?” said the sports buff. “Roger Federer at first, then Nadal because he started upsetting the former’s game and now a flutter about Djokovic being the best because he beat Nadal in a Grand Slam tournament final.”
In trying to answer the question, some of the RCBians said it was about having an all-round game, others that it was about winning a certain number of Grand Slam titles. However, the mystique of the question and its many answers is quite an attraction to repeatedly draw up this discussion.
Many of the players were nodding to the logical arguments, some in agreement that a sportsman needs to get someone else to assess his or her game, while others simply accepted the fact that a sportsperson needs to push himself into a 'higher game.' “It’s the triumph of the spirit,” said someone. Indeed, the route to becoming a great sportsman is dotted by adversity, strength of character to overcome that and being a target setter instead of letting things happen. It’s these varied discussions that add another interesting facet to the culture of RCB. Like its owner, Siddhartha, the team has imbibed the spirit of forward thinking and introspection.
Through the day, the team had one session of autographing T-shirts and shortly after, left for the ground for an evening session under floodlights. The highlight of the session was the all-round activity of all the players.
Bowling Coach Venkatesh Prasad ensured he spent sufficient time giving fielders boundary-line catches. “Our fielding could be crucial,” remarked Venky. Dirk Nannes looked relaxed too but of course, another pleasant surprise was the arrival of Virat Kohli. After showering at the cricket stadium, the players left directly to attend a concert as the guests of honour. Everybody’s looking forward to the first match, against the Warriors on Friday.