Two-time World Cup-winning former India captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni retired from international cricket on Saturday, ending over one year of suspense and also an era during which his often unorthodox leadership and finishing skills became the stuff of legends.
The 39-year-old will, however, compete in this year’s IPL, which gets underway in the UAE from September 19 after being moved out of India due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Thanks a lot for ur love and support throughout. from 1929hrs consider me as retired,” Dhoni posted on his instagram handle.
Timing of announcement
The announcement came a day after he joined his Chennai Super kings teammates at the side’s home base for a short training camp ahead of the players’ departure to the UAE next week.
His last outing in India colours was during the lost World Cup semifinal against New Zealand in July last year.
The BCCI sent out a statement, detailing each one of his historic achievements and lauding “a legacy that will be difficult to replicate.” Board president Sourav Ganguly and secretary Jay Shah paid rich tributes.
“It is the end of an era. What a player he has been for the country and world cricket…He will finish with no regrets on the field,” said Ganguly.
“He is leaving the game richer from the time he joined,” added Shah.
One of the best runners between the wickets was run out following a hard-earned 50 in that tense game, shattering Indian hopes and leaving him in a state of disbelief.
Ever since he went on a sabbatical after that match, speculation raged over his future but he stoically avoided a response for over a year.
The reticent man from Ranchi will, however, go down as one of the finest to have played the game for India, turning up for the country in a whopping 350 ODIs, 90 Tests and 98 T20 Internationals.
The last leg of his career was, however, marred by a drop in form, prompting several critics to question his resolve to continue.
But he nevertheless signs off as an ODI legend with 10,773 runs, averaging more than 50 despite batting between No.5 and 7 for a major chunk of his career.
In the Test format, from which he retired in 2014, Dhoni accumulated 4876 runs at an average of 38.09 and led India to more wins (27) than anyone else before him.
However, runs are not the parameter on which Dhoni’s career can be truly judged.
Considered a punter by some and a master strategist by several others, it was Dhoni’s captaincy, wondrous reading of match situations and the jaw-dropping hand-speed behind stumps that had the cricket world mesmerised.
A leader even after he gave up the official tag of the leader, Dhoni will be remembered as the nonconformist, who made risks look like well thought-out strategy.
Whether it was handing the ball to rookie Joginder Sharma in the final over of the 2007 World T20 or pushing himself ahead of man-in-form Yuvraj Singh in the 2011 50-over World Cup, Dhoni’s instincts rarely failed him.
For the record, India lifted the trophy on both occasions, propelling him to cult status in a country which remains hopelessly in love with all things cricket.
The IPL was also his happy hunting ground where he was the revered ’Thala’, leading the Chennai Super Kings to three trophies.
The most significant of those titles came last season when the side made its return to the event after a two-year suspension for its official Gurunath Meiyappan’s role in the 2013 spot-fixing scandal.
CSK CEO Kasi Vishwanathan recently stated that the big-hitting batsman will continue to play for the franchise at least till 2022.
Dhoni spent the past year training with his unit in the Territorial Army, where he is an honorary lieutenant colonel, trying his hand at organic farming at his home in Ranchi, and occasionally hitting the nets to send the media and fans into a tizzy.