WATCH: RCB captain Smriti Mandhana gets superstar-esque cheer overwhelmed as Bengaluru crowd goes berserk

On an electrifying day at the M Chinnaswamy Stadium, the noise was deafening, the atmosphere electric, and the cricket fever was at an all-time high. As the Royal Challengers Bangalore (RCB) Women’s team geared up for their debut home game in the Women’s Premier League (WPL) 2024, the fans in Bangalore showed they were no less than the ’12th man’, proving their unwavering support in a manner that would become unforgettable.

Former Australian cricketer and renowned commentator Mel Jones was on the field to witness the toss. She commented on the incredible noise levels, likening it to something greater than what the Bollywood stars received during the WPL’s glitzy opening ceremony. And she wasn’t exaggerating – when Smriti Mandhana, the RCB captain, stepped up for the coin toss and the subsequent interview, the tumultuous cheers from the stands rendered the PA system almost inaudible.

It was a surreal moment as Mandhana approached Jones for the pre-match ritual; the chant of “AaaaaarrrrrCccccccBbbbbbb” thundered through the arena, halting the conversation before it could even begin. Taken aback by the sheer volume and intensity of the crowd’s roar, Mandhana had to pause and gesture towards the enthralled fans, pleading for a momentary hush so she could carry on with the interview. The crowd’s response to her, equally overwhelmed, momentarily dipped before surging back in a wave of support for their team.

The scene was a testament to the growing popularity and commercial success of the WPL, with tickets sold out and fans packed to the rafters, ready to witness a spectacle of women’s cricket unlock a new chapter. The high-stakes game saw RCB pitted against the UP Warriorz, and the home team did not let their supporters down, delivering a nail-biting finish to win by a thrilling two-run margin.

The match unfolded as a dramatic sequence of events, with early setbacks for RCB as they lost three crucial wickets swiftly. However, the debutante Sabbineni Meghana emerged as a beacon for RCB with a well-composed fifty, steadying the ship amidst stormy waters. Following her, Richa Ghosh unleashed her ferocity with the bat, smashing a quickfire fifty that provided the RCB innings a much-needed thrust. Despite the tremulous start, 157 runs eventually adorned the scoreboard, a recovery that looked formidable in light of being 54 for 3 at one stage.

Then came the turn of the bowlers to shine under the floodlights. The much-acclaimed spin trio of Asha Sobhana, Georgia Wareham, and Sophie Molineux spinned their web around the Warriorz’s batters. It was a day of records as Asha Sobhana made history, becoming the first Indian in the WPL to claim a five-wicket haul. Her mesmerizing three-wicket over, where she outsmarted Shweat Sehrawat, Grace Harris, and Kiran Navgire, was an epochal moment, turning the game on its head and leaving the Warriorz just short of the mark.

The RCB women showed tenacity and skill, justifying the fanfare and affection they received. Their performance affirmed that the crowd’s support was not misplaced, and the ladies of Bangalore gave their fans a thrilling spectacle they won’t soon forget. Victory at home was special, indeed, but the jubilation of the RCB crowd and the echoing chants of their team’s name will remain etched in memory even longer.

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