It was a moment etched into the cricketing history books as Smriti Mandhana playfully altered the ever-present slogan of hope among Royal Challengers Bangalore (RCB) fans to a triumphant declaration of victory. “One statement that always comes up is Ee Sala Cup Namde. Now it’s Ee Sala Cup Namdu,” Mandhana remarked, signifying the end of a 16-year-long wait, as the streets of Bengaluru erupted in euphoric celebration not unlike the climax scene of a blockbuster Bollywood film. The avid supporters, who had been holding out for a single glimpse of their cherished team topping the winner’s podium, finally got their wish, and it was as surreal as the famous Om Shanti Om dialogue — a testament to their unwavering desire finally achieving fruition.

So profound was the celebration that it felt like an entire city was living its dream, united by the jubilation ushered in by the women who turned it into reality. It was a sweet end to 16 years of patience, heartbreak, and steadfast support. Mandhana, lifting the trophy at Arun Jaitley Stadium, was not alone. Every RCB enthusiast, in spirit, raised the trophy aloft with her. It was a childlike joy, a culmination of hopes and dreams that took eons in cricketing time to be realized.

Despite the past, Mandhana clarified long ago that the women’s team should not carry the burden of the men’s side’s failures in the IPL. And rightly so, as the women’s team, only two years into its inception, has already taken flight towards glory. When RCB clinched the maiden Women’s Premier League (WPL) title, the players and fans experienced the entire spectrum of human emotions, from ecstatic singing and dancing to tears of joy and roars of triumph. Virat Kohli, epitomizing loyalty to RCB, shared in the joy via a video call, illustrating how connected the RCB family truly is.

RCB’s journey through the WPL has been nothing short of a rollercoaster ride. Victories were savored, and losses were lessons, but resilience shone through when it mattered most. A turning point came in a pivotal match against the formidable Mumbai Indians, where Ellyse Perry put up an extraordinary performance, setting the tone for consistency in high-pressure games. With her epic 66 off 50 deliveries in the playoffs, Perry anchored RCB’s innings single-handedly. The spinners, led by Shreyanka Patil, played their crucial part as well, particularly highlighted when Patil, overcoming a hairline fracture, posted the best bowling figures in a WPL final.

Patil herself gave a nod to the now iconic phrase ‘Ee Sala Cup namde’, indicating that the chase for the cup has been fulfilled. The players were clearly playing not just for glory, but for the sea of fans who lived and breathed RCB every day. “It is for the fans. We felt like family,” Patil emphasized, a sentiment that strongly resonated through the entire squad.

Mandhana, beaming with pride, expressed how profound an experience this win was, placing it perhaps in her top five cricketing moments, a testimony that could only be outranked by a World Cup victory. The captain acknowledged the journey the team had, contrasting it with the previous year when playoff hopes were dashed early. “These tournaments are about peaking at the right time,” she noted, praising the management for their empowering approach and emphasizing the collective achievement.

In the end, Mandhana addressed the fans directly, giving back in words to the “most loyal fanbase.” She knew just how much it meant to take the phrase ‘Ee Sala Cup Namde’ and transform it into ‘Ee Sala Cup Namdu’. Her use of the regional language Kannada was a tribute to the fans, a perfect note to conclude a chapter of longing and to begin one of newfound RCB legacy.

By IPL Agent

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