NEW DELHI: Over the 16 years that he lorded over the
, fans had come to expect the unexpected from
. Even so, he managed to serve up a bolt from the blue on Saturday. On a relaxed I-Day evening, after completing his first practice session with
teammates following a five-month hiatus from cricket due to the lockdown, Dhoni posted a typically
. “Thanks a lot for ur love and support throughout. from 1929 hrs consider me as Retired (sic),” Dhoni’s message read, as Sahir Ludhianvi’s ‘Main pal do pal ka shayar hoon’ sung by Mukesh played in the background.
With that, Dhoni brought down the curtains on his international career, leaving most of his teammates stumped. Within minutes, his CSK and former India teammate
, too, announced his international retirement. Though Dhoni did not specify whether his announcement was only regarding international cricket, CSK sources indicated that both he and Raina would continue playing for the franchise at least till IPL’s 2021 edition.
Dhoni’s announcement marks the end of an era for Indian cricket. His numbers are staggering, but they do not begin to capture the impact of the once long-haired boy from Ranchi whose canny captaincy, ice-cool demeanour under nerve-racking pressure and unorthodox brilliance paved the way for some of Indian cricket’s most memorable moments.
As the news broke out after practice at MA Chidambaram Stadium, those in the CSK dressing-room rushed to speak to him. Dhoni shrugged and told them to check Instagram. “Just felt like it,” was all he said, and started planning for Monday’s net session in his usual unflustured manner. Some things, at least, don’t change.