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by Saksham Mishra Wednesday 24 July 2019
They reckoned that it is highly probable that Dhoni will call it a day after the ICC event. In the same breath, they also conceded that you can never foretell Dhoni's moves as he has been extremely unpredictable both on and off the field. Many cited his Test retirement, when he had called it quits in the middle of the Australia series and also copped criticism for it.
As opposed to the popular belief that Dhoni will retire after the World Cup, he has surprised many, in varying degrees of pleasantness (or unpleasantness) after his manager Arun Pandey made it clear that Dhoni has no immediate plans of retirement.
After making himself unavailable for two months, Dhoni was not considered for the tour of West Indies. But he stills intends to stick around. Probably there is still the last throw of the dice that the master strategist has up his sleeve.
Here's listing out five probable reasons why Dhoni did not retire right after India's World Cup campaign was unceremoniously cut short.
There is little doubt that Team India will place its bets on the flashy keeper-batsman Rishabh Pant as Dhoni's replacement. Pant has shown a lot of promise but is yet to convert that promise into consistent performances.
Hence, Dhoni might be sticking around to mentor his understudy and once he believes that the prodigy is ready for the biggest stage, he might walk away.
This was precisely his mindset at the time of his Test retirement. When he saw that Virat Kohli was ready to lead the team and Wriddhiman Saha could hold his own as the keeper in the long format, he decided to pass on the baton.
The 2007 T20I World Cup victory, the 2011 World Cup triumph and the 2013 Champions Trophy win have been landmarks in Dhoni's long and prolific career. Unfortunately, in both the 2015 and the 2019 World Cup, India have missed the bus in the semis and failed to make it to the finals.
This was exactly the case in the 2016 T20 World Cup hosted by the nation as well. In the 2014 edition of the T20I World Cup also, India missed by a whisker, losing to Sri Lanka in the finals.
The possibility of Dhoni trying to add one more ICC trophy to his cabinet before calling it a day can also not be completely ruled out.
Even the likes of Lasith Malinga, Mashrafe Mortaza and Chris Gayle have not retired yet and all are awaiting a match in front of their home crowd. Possibly, this is the reason why Dhoni is still sticking around and might walk into the sunset after playing a series or even a solitary match in front of the Indian crowd.
This is probably what informs his decision to be unavailable for the coming two months. After the West Indies tour, The Men in Blue are scheduled to clash against Bangladesh and West Indies in November-December. This limited-overs leg will be preceded by a three-match home Test series against South Africa but as Dhoni does not play the longest format, he will await the three home T20Is against Bangladesh and six LOIs against West Indies, which might well be the last few matches that Dhoni decides to play, subject to selection, of course.
If India had won the World Cup or even if Dhoni had helped the team make it to the finals with his measured knock in the semi-finals against New Zealand, the keeper-batsman may have hung his boots.
But, since he fell just inches short - quite literally - of the finish line, which led to one of the most heartbreaking moments in Indian cricket history, Dhoni wants to retire on a positive note.
There is little doubt that Dhoni is still one of the quickest players going around as far running between the wickets is concerned. However, many would not deny that his stamina has certainly taken a hit, which is only natural given his increasing age.
During the LOIs against Australia and New Zealand before the World Cup, where he played some handy knocks, also being deemed as the Player of the series in the Australia ODIs, it was evident that the former skipper huffed and puffed through his innings. As it is, the way he has modelled his current game, Dhoni accumulates a major part of his runs in singles and doubles. Continuing for another year or so will take a toll on his body but Dhoni is willing to take up the challenge.
©Cricket World 2019