With fans returning to the stadiums for the Indian Premier League (IPL) after a hiatus of a couple of years, Royal Challengers Bangalore's (RCB) star batsman Virat Kohli has talked about the role fans have played in his career.
Kohli called RCB's fans as the team's 12th man army and said he is looking forward to their unwavering support in this edition of the IPL too.
Speaking exclusively on RCB Bold Diaries, a podcast run by the franchise, former captain Virat Kohli expressed his gratitude towards fans.
"I'm very excited and I'm extremely grateful. I've understood the impact and the contribution of people coming to the stadiums, in my career. Because, as much as you feel sometimes 'man! We're getting booed, we're getting a little bit of stick from the crowd' and 'century maarna hai.' And you sometimes get annoyed as a player, honestly.
"This is a very honest feeling of mine, we had a conversation about this, me and Anushka, she was like 'you must realize the importance and you must acknowledge the fact that the crowd has played such a huge role in your career.'
"Because, now when I look back at it, I fed off 40,000–50,000 people's shouting. It drove me to a different level, where I felt like anything is possible, I could do anything. I have the energy of so many people behind me. They believe in me; they're looking forward to something from me. So, I'm very grateful to them, firstly. And secondly, I'm very happy (that) they're back in the stands. Hopefully, we'll get more and more of them as the tournament goes on."
He adds, "For me, sport is all about the atmosphere, the tension, people watching, people competing. And I think it is a perfect synchronization. It's a beautiful harmony when it happens. The fun is not there if the fans are not there. To me, sport is all about the fans."
The matches with be played across stadiums in Mumbai, Navi Mumbai, and Pune with 25% fans attendance as per the Covid protocols set by the BCCI.
Elucidating further on his connection with the RCB 12th Man Army, Virat cited an example while he was playing in the second Day-Night Test against Sri Lanka at the M Chinnaswamy Stadium in Bengaluru, the RCB said in a release on Sunday.
"In the test match as well, I understood the power of our (RCB) fanbase. Throughout the two and a half days, I think for two days I only heard 'RCB-RCB' in the stadium and it was so loud. It was as loud as the 2016 season or the final. It was amazing. It gave me goosebumps. It made me a little emotional of all th' memories that we've had. I was thinking about all the amazing moments and games that we've had.
"They were shouting AB (de Villiers') name and they were shouting my name and RCB and whatnot. It was just unbelievable. I feel so grateful to have been a part of a franchise for so long. That's what you play for, eventually. Yes, we all love playing for titles and all that. But you know, these moments of pure love and connection with the fans," Kohli said of the fans' support.