Mahendra Singh Dhoni, one of the biggest sportsperson India has ever produced, have decided to retire his India Jersey. These announcements of his retirement has had a pattern, which has come after a lot of thought and process. Dhoni during his own years as a cricketer in the Indian team has seen how unceremoniously the greats of the game in India had to leave. Sachin Tendulkar’s ODI retirement was announced through BCCI Press Note, when he himself was on a flight from Mumbai to Dehradun, even after scoring 51 centuries and 18,000 runs in ODIs.
Only 04 Indian players in the history of Indian cricket, could announce their retirement on the eve of their last Test match or series. They are Sachin Tendulkar, Sunil Gavaskar, Sourav Ganguly and Anil Kumble. Kumble had to infact make a hurried announcement due a finger injury in the middle of a Test Match. Tendulkar, Gavaskar and Sourav did announce their retirements on the eve of their last series which they played. Tendulkar and Sourav retired under Dhoni’s Captaincy.
Seeing the fate of his celebrated seniors unfold in front of him, Dhoni had the clarity in his mind at an early date, that he can also be pushed into retirement like his predecessors. It is a culture which is being followed in India for generations and unless a change in mindset happens, it is unlikely to be changed. Kapil Dev who had captained India to a World Cup win, and was also holding the record for most Test wickets then, was also dropped from the ODI team, and forced into retirement.
Legacy of MS Dhoni
MS Dhoni has led India to two World Cup wins, one in 50 over World Cup, and another in a T20 World Cup. He has also lifted the Champions Trophy for India. Under him the Indian Team had risen to the No.1 Ranking in the World in all three formats, Tests, ODIs and T20s. His Captaincy record at 50 Over World Cups is 14 wins and 02 losses. He has Captained India in 02 50 over World Cups and 04 T20 World Cups. Dhoni took the tough call of resting the team Seniors in the 2008 ODI Tri Series in Australia, and that team under him won the Tri Series for the first time for India, in the tournament’s history.
In ODIs he has more than 10,000 runs at an average of over 50. He has affected over 100 stumpings and had remained not out 84 times which are records till today. Only twice out of the 84 times, when he came back as the Not Out batsman did India loose a match, its a 82-2 win loss record for him as a Not Out batsman. He has effected 829 dismissals across all formats which is third highest after Boucher and Gilchrist. His 195 stumpings puts him at the top of the table in the World for maximum stumpings in a career. Dhoni has scored 17266 runs across all formats for India, and is the 5th highest after Tendulkar, Dravid, Kohli and Sourav. 829 dismissals and 17266 runs in national colours in 538 appearances should make any cricketer proud.
Dhoni has Captained India 332 times, which is a World Record in itself. His closest challenger to this record is Virat Kohli, who also has a better win percentage than him. With Dhoni as Captain, India has won 178 times, which is secondly on only to Ricky Ponting who led Australia to 220 victories. Dhoni also remains the only Captain till date to hold all the ICC trophies the 50 Overs World Cup, T20 World Cup and Champions Trophy and No. 1 Test Ranking Maze, as Captain.
Dhoni’s Test Retirement
Before the 2015 World Cup, India had a tour of Australia. Though Dhoni was named as Captain for the entire tour, he was injured and he could not travel with the team. In his previous tour of Australia as the Indian Captain, which was after the 2011 World Cup, India lost the series 0-4. In 2014 they had gone to Australia after losing 1-3 England, in 2011 they had lost 0-4 to England, all under Dhoni. Dhoni missed the first test which was drawn, and took charge in the second test against Australia. India lost that test under Dhoni and they trailed 0-1 in the series. In the second innings of the test with India having a conceded a 97 run first innings lead, went from 86/2 to 87/5 which included a duck by Dhoni. This collapse proved crucial for India, and India lost the match.
With the series at 0-1, and with the third test heading towards a draw, Dhoni announced his retirement from Test Cricket on the final morning of the third test. He was playing his 90th Test match, his 60th as Captain of India. The pressure losing 0-4, 1-3 to England and 0-4 to Australia on their soil, took its toll on him, forcing him to announce his retirement in the middle of an overseas tour in Australia.
He knew in his own mind better than anyone that he was making no valuable contribution to the Test Team either as a player or as a Captain. Dhoni believed that Wridhiman Saha was better keeper than him in Test Cricket, and he himself needed to move away to create space for Saha. He was only six short of 300 test dismissals then, but he believed in sacrifice to make the team move forward. Virat Kohli captained India in two of the four matches, and Dhoni captained in two of them. The positive effect of that experience by Virat was awarded, when his team won the series in Australia in 2018.
Till date, and its been over six years, MS Dhoni never spoke to any media about his Test retirement. Its only his teammates know why he announced his retirement in the middle of a Test Match, and Series away from home.
Giving up Captaincy
Dhoni had captained India in 199 ODIs when he gave up his Captaincy on his own. At that time he had Captained India in 331 matches across all formats which was a World Record. India were two years away from the 2019 World Cup, and Dhoni always believed that new Captain needed a couple of years at least to build up a team to perform, so he decided to pass on the baton. Dhoni had very little left to achieve as a Captain then. The only record which eluded him was the maximum number of ODI wins which Ricky Ponting had. Dhoni knew that, that record was beyond his reach so he let it go. All other records as Captain in limited overs cricket were in his name at that point of time.
In T20s, he had captained in the most number of matches, had maximum wins. In the combined record of all formats as Captain, he was on top of the list. He let Ricky Ponting lead the number of wins chart, as he was far ahead. Dhoni himself was thrust into Captaincy in 2007 when the four seniors of the regular cricket team decided not to play the T20 World Cup. Dhoni led the team without the regulars and went on to lift the Cup. Within months of his Captaincy he won the Tri Series in Australia for the first time for India. Within three years of that he lifted the ODI World Cup for India. So he wanted to give sufficient time to the next Captain to get his act organised before the World Cup of 2019. He gave up his Captaincy by calling selectors himself rather than them calling him, which is the practice in India. He just said two words- “Thats it”
The final curtain
So it was back in 2016, even before he relinquished his own Captaincy, he had made up his mind to retire after the 2019 World Cup. In his entire career he has got out on twice by stumping and only 16 times by run outs. In the World Cup semifinal when he got run out, his heart broke. Dhoni is one person, who always believed that he cannot get run out or get out stumped. For him to get run out at a juncture, when India got thrown out of the world Cup for that run out is hard to live with.
Dhoni never reacted to any media reports about his chances of playing in next World T20. Present BCCI President, his colleagues in CSK they all indicated that they are aware of Dhoni’s plans but none came public with it. With the postponement of ICC World T20 this year in Australia due to the prevailing pandemic, it is evident that the next World T20 will only be played after IPL 2021. His IPL franchise CSK has confirmed that Dhoni is contracted to them till IPL 2021, and they are trying for his services in IPL 2022 also.
From CSK announcements it is indicative that Dhoni is planning his IPL retirement also in 2021, when he will be 40 years in age. By end of 2021, Dhoni knows that any of the present wicket keepers will have the requisite experience to take the pressures of playing World Cup matches. So since he is in a nothing to loose situation, he chose the 74th Independence Day of his native country to bid adieu to jersey he loved the most.
Dhoni- The Eternal IPL Hero
The Indian Premier League was an idea that was conceived after India under Dhoni lifted the T20 World Cup in Australia. From its inception year in 2008, till date the biggest icon of the Indian Premier League is MS Dhoni. He plays for the franchise Chennai Super Kings, and he had led his team to 03 IPL titles, two Champions League titles. CSK has also played the most finals in IPL,and made the knockouts in every edition of the tournament.
The team in yellow has a huge fan following, and the people of Tamil Nadu regard MS Dhoni as a God. They call him Thaliava. CSK has a big role to play in the legacy and decisions of MS Dhoni. Be it cutting his Test career short, to keep playing the shorter version of the game for a longer time, or giving up Captaincy before reinstation of CSK back into the IPL, or ending his international career, his commitment to CSK is comparable to his commitment to play for India.
Big part of the revenue of IPL is generated by hero status of the players. Though Rohit Sharma has won more IPL titles than Dhoni as Captain, but he also admits that in terms of IPL icons, MS Dhoni is numero uno. The organisers are well aware that it will be hard to keep this level of following of the tournament without MS Dhoni, they are also want Dhoni to play till he can play. Dhoni knows that he is still irreplacable in the CSK lineup, and the entire team management depends on his judgement. His CSK mate, Suresh Raina also announced his retirement from international cricket within minutes of Dhoni’s announcement. Dhoni’s CSK mate, Harbhajan Singh had announced months before of Dhoni having played his last match for India.
The Sushant Singh Factor
The demise of Sushant Singh Rajput has also had a big effect on Dhoni. Rajput played the on screen character in the biopic on Dhoni. On the news of his death, Dhoni went into his shell of silence, and have not spoken in any public forum about the demise of Rajput. The whole country and the media are carrying parrellel investigations to the cause of Rajput’s death and some are trying to the job of investigating agencies also on their media platforms, but Dhoni has not broken his silence on the issue.
The biopic on Dhoni, which was played by Rajput revolved mainly around his career in the Indian jersey. It was a limited depiction of his IPL stint with Chennai Super Kings, but more on his struggle to play for India, and his reaching the pinnacle of his career leading India. Sushant wore the same jersey of Dhoni for the scenes in the film. Seeing the death of his character in his national jersey was the last nail that had to put in the coffin which travels with Dhoni whenever he had played for India. That will never be opened again, and will box all the memories, sweat and blood of 538 international matches.
As a complete Indian cricketer, Dhoni has won the 50 over World Cup, the T20 World Cup, Champions Trophy, No.1 ranking maze in Tests, ODI, T20s. In franchise cricket he had won the IPL and the Champions League also. As a domestic player he has won the Irani Trophy, Deodhar Trophy and Runners Up in Duleep Trophy .He has never won Ranji Trophy for his state, which most icon national players has done. There was no Syed Mushtaq Trophy when Dhoni was a regular in domestic circuit.