One of the recent greats in Indian crickets, Mahendra Singh Dhoni has called it a day. Drawing the on a glittering international cricket career today, he decided to retire from limited-overs cricket, ending a near 16-year golden run. Dhoni announced his decision on social media at a time when a coronavirus-hit world is hardly seeing sporting activities, with the Board for Control of Cricket in India (BCCI) is struggling to hold the Indian Premier League.
Another cricketing great Sunil Gavaskar had speculated on 23 March, “The team has moved on. Dhoni is not someone to make big announcements so I reckon he would silently retire from the game.”
Dhoni had quit Test cricket in December 2014. There was intense speculation when the explosive wicketkeeper-batsman would hang up his boots in one-day internationals and Twenty20 games. The speculation intensified after the former captain had taken a break from the game after the ICC ODI World Cup earlier this year and joined his regiment of the Indian Army for a short stint. He made himself unavailable for the limited-over series against West Indies in the Caribbean and South Africa at home.
“Thanks a lot for ur love and support throughout. From 1929 hrs consider me as Retired,” Dhoni wrote on his Instagram page while announcing the news.
One Indian selector was quoted as saying that the very experienced wicket-keeper batsman had actually given the five wise men time to build the team with an eye on the 2020 World T20 in Australia.
Dhoni’s future in international cricket had been a subject of heated debate and there were enough indications that the selectors had begun looking ahead and planning for the future, with the emergence of Rishabh Pant and the likes of Sanju Samson, Wriddhiman Saha and Ishan Kishan waiting in the wings.
Ethnically from Uttarakhand but hailing from Jharkhand, Dhoni became India’s most decorated captain. His first big achievement as captain was leading India to the 2007 World T20 title in its inaugural edition. The cricket lovers of the country woke up to the phenomenon that was ‘Mahi’ as India clinched the title, beating archrivals Pakistan in the final.
Four years thereafter, India clinched their second ODI World Cup title under Dhoni’s captaincy. He finished off the final versus Sri Lank in style with a magnificent six at the Wankhede Stadium on April 2, 2011. His knock of 91 not out in the final will always be remembered as one of the finest ever played in a crunch World Cup final encounter.
Dhoni had debuted as an Indian ODI player in December 2004 on the back of his explosive batting but it was in his fifth ODI against Pakistan at Visakhapatnam on 5 April 2005. That was when ‘Dhoni the star’ was born, blowing the Pakistan attack to smithereens, scoring a swashbuckling 148.
There was no looking back for Dhoni after that match and he went on to become one of the most popular cricketers in India. In 2008, under Dhoni’s captaincy India won the CB series ODI tri-nation tournament in Australia, which was a big series win for the Men in Blue.
Under Dhoni’s captaincy, India also won the 2013 ICC Champions Trophy. Dhoni, in fact, is the only captain in world cricket who has won all three ICC limited-overs titles (T20 World Cup, ODI World Cup and Champions Trophy).
Dhoni led the national team also to the top of the ICC Test rankings.
Dhoni was awarded the Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratna (2007), the Padma Shri (2009) and the Padma Bhushan (2018). He was the ICC ODI player of the year in 2008 and 2009, becoming the first cricketer to win the award twice.
One of the most popular and loved cricketers, MS Dhoni built on the legacy of aggressive captaincy with an attitude that had begun with Sourav Ganguly.