CHENNAI: Not that this was not on the cards or people did not expect it. But MS Dhoni left his own, unique mark while announcing retirement from international cricket. No one at the practice session of the Chennai Super Kings had a clue. Nor did anyone in BCCI saw it coming. Like the rest of the world, they all came to know about it from Dhoni’s Instagram post.
No farewell speech, no get together of illustrious peers, not a chance for anyone to say goodbye in person. Perfect, for a player who prefers making announcements that shake the cricketing world in the least expected manner. Out of the blue! Only difference this time was the Mukesh song accompanying the Instagram post, lending a sense of drama to the situation.
The montage of photographs in the post capturing poignant moments of a career that lasted almost 15 years (just short of 16, counting the period since last year’s World Cup semifinal during which he didn’t play for India) was not instantaneous though. It was well thought and conceptualised and must have taken time to compile. He was thinking about it, without making it visible. That’s how he has been, not bothered about what the world thinks.
That’s how he was in England last year. International media kept chasing him, asking mainly one question. “Are you going to make that announcement after the World Cup? Or is the T20 World Cup in your plans?” He smiled, looked away and even obliged requests for selfies at Old Trafford one day, without breaking his silence. It seemed he was playing with them. By not saying anything, he was making the world more and more eager to ask that question.
Is this how he has always been? Most of those to have come in close contact with him say yes. Like some superhuman characters of fictions or movies, he can be heard only if he wants himself to be heard. No one can coax anything out of him. This self-built screen to keep the world at bay remained intact from 2007, after he became captain. People tried known and unknown tricks to break his defence, which remained impregnable for 13 years.
This mystique adds to the aura of the man. Helicopter shot, almost abnormal ability to stay calm under pressure, making improbable targets look achievable, uncanny foresight in making match-turning bowling changes will all remain part of Indian cricket lore.
Equally or more remarkable will be the curtain he used to separate himself from the world. Living like that for so many years despite being a super celebrity makes Dhoni different from his peers.
He was never swayed by the adulation showered on him. It’s natural for a performer of his stature to be surrounded by people who constantly say things to please him.
In Edgbaston last year, after a scratchy and unbeaten half-century against the West Indies, Dhoni was walking towards the nets toed by people who kept saying “century tha, time nahi mila (there was a century for the taking, time proved to be the constraint).” Many of them were known to him, but Dhoni just walked away without even looking at them.
And that’s how it remained till the end. There was a lot of talk about his retirement after last year’s World Cup and Dhoni made the announcement after speculations died down.
Postponement of this year’s T20 World Cup might have played a part in it. But by springing a surprise of sorts, Dhoni lived up to his reputation of being one who pulls a rabbit out of the hat. Out of the Blue, literally.
A never-ending search for a batsman-keeper leads India to MS Dhoni, who is included in the tour to Bangladesh, after smashing two centuries for India A against Pakistan A. The tour wasn’t one to remember for Dhoni as he was run-out for zero in his debut match.
Remember the name
In his second series against Pakistan at home, Dhoni was sent in at No 3 at Vizag. The long-haired maniac ended up outscoring Virender Sehwag as he scored his first ODI century (148).
It meant, India used him as a floater and in the home series against Sri Lanka, he scored an unbeaten 183, which still remains the highest individual score by a wicketkeeper in ODIs and also highest in a chase. He became the posterboy of Indian cricket.
Target after 2007 World Cup
A tournament to forget for India. And even more for Dhoni as his effigies were burnt in front of his house in Ranchi by an angry mob. It is said this incident left Dhoni to retrospect, especially with police guarding him on arrival. “It felt as if we had committed a big crime, maybe like a murderer.”
Hello Captain, T20 WC 2007
Was named captain for India’s campaign in the World T20 in South Africa. Sans big names, Dhoni led a young side with unforeseen calm for an Indian captain, as they defeated Pakistan to lift India’s first world title since 1983. Was made ODI captain soon after wards and the name Captain Cool tagged long.
2011 World Cup
Strictly speaking as a batsman, Dhoni had another World Cup to forget till the final. Walking in ahead of inform Yuvraj Singh in the final, Dhoni’s unbeaten 91 powered India to its second 50-over World Cup title.
2013 Champions Trophy
His captaincy wasn’t great in Test matches, but two years later in England, after the exit of Gautam Gambhir, Virender Sehwag, Yuvraj Singh, Dhoni’s India remained unbeaten in the campaign as he became the first captain in the world to lay hands on WT20, World Cup and Champions Trophy.
With lack of captaincy material, Dhoni carried on as captain. His role as a finisher only kept improving as he sealed a thrilling win in the Caribbean against Sri Lanka. 2015 World Cup and 2016 WT20 came and went, but Dhoni continued in the chair before making way to Kohli.
He soldiered on as a batsman, not the same, but with limitations. His international career ended the way it began, via run out in Manchester.
Raina also joins his captain
Suresh Raina, one of India’s prolific white ball players in the last decade and a half announced his retirement from international cricket, following the footsteps of his favourite captain and mentor Mahendra Singh Dhoni.
More than a year after playing his last ODI in the 2019 World Cup semifinal, Mahendra Singh Dhoni — the only captain to lay hands on WT20, World Cup and Champions Trophy — retires from international cricket, putting an end to speculations. The 39-year-old will continue to be part of Chennai Super Kings.