MS Dhoni Retirement Saga: From Kohli to Ganguly, Who Said What?
BCCI chief Sourav Ganguly, captain Virat Kohli & chief selector MSK Prasad haven’t thrown any light to the matter.
The mystery surrounding MS Dhoni’s absence from the Indian team is getting murkier with each passing day.
The last time Dhoni was seen in the Indian colours was during India’s semi-final exit against New Zealand, at the 2019 World Cup in England in July. Since then, Dhoni has been on a sabbatical, which was going to last for two months, encompassing two series – West Indies and South Africa.
But, last week, when the T20I squad was announced for the three-match series against Bangladesh, Dhoni was once again missing from the squad.
The fact that the two-month period of Dhoni’s unavailability is over and he wasn’t included in the squad is quite alarming, as far as his future is concerned.
With cryptic statements from people at the helm – including BCCI chief Sourav Ganguly, captain Virat Kohli and chief selector MSK Prasad – it looks like the Dhoni puzzle isn’t getting solved anytime soon.
Before the West Indies Tour
Immediately after the World Cup, after the squad for the West Indies series was selected, Prasad hadn’t divulged much on Dhoni’s future.
But, very subtly, he had mentioned that just like retirement was solely Dhoni's prerogative, it was the job of the selectors to decide on the future course of action.
“Retirement is purely individual (decision). A legendary cricketer like Dhoni, he knows when to retire. What is the future course of action, that is in the hands of the selection committee.”MSK Prasad on 22 July 2019
The former Indian keeper went on to mention that Dhoni was not available for the series and they have already started grooming Rishabh Pant to take over the reins in the shorter format.
“Post World Cup, we have laid down a few more plans and we thought of giving as many opportunities as possible to Rishabh Pant and and to see, he is groomed. That is our plan right now.”MSK Prasad on 22 July 2019
Prasad did mention that Dhoni was aware of the future roadmap plan.
Before South Africa Series
Ahead of the South Africa series, Dhoni’s non-inclusion once again hogged the limelight, despite him making himself unavailable for the series.
Dhoni’s retirement rumour was fueled further following a cryptic tweet from captain Kohli.
“A game I can never forget. Special night. This man made me run like in a fitness test,” tweeted Kohli, recalling their clash against Australia at the 2016 World T20.
Later, a tweet from Sakshi Singh Dhoni and clarification from Prasad during the team announcement for the South Africa series helped quash the ‘rumours’.
“No update on MS Dhoni’s retirement, the news is incorrect.”MSK Prasad on 12 September 2019
Kohli had also clarified that ‘he had nothing in his mind’ while he tweeted that picture and how it was a lesson for him.
“I think it was a lesson for me, that the way I think, the whole world does not think that way. There was nothing in farthest stretch of my imagination (that it could be taken as retirement tribute) while putting that picture out on social media,” Kohli had said.
After the T20 series against South Africa, it was even reported that not rest but injury was keeping Dhoni out and it was believed that the earliest he would make a comeback to the Indian side will be during the West Indies tour of India in December.
Virat Kohli’s Take
Meanwhile, skipper Kohli also expressed his opinion regarding Dhoni’s retirement. Like the selection chief, Kohli’s answer was also a bit open-ended.
“One great thing about him (Dhoni) is that he thinks for Indian cricket. And whatever we (team management) think, he is on the same page. The alignment is there.”Virat Kohli on 14 September 2019
There was zero clarity as far as Dhoni’s future was concerned.
“When you decide to stop playing is an absolutely individual thing, and no one else should have an opinion on it, that’s what I think. As long as he is available and continues to play, he is going to be very valuable,” Kohli added.
Even the usually politically correct new BCCI chief Sourav Ganguly couldn’t enlighten the curious fans in this regard.
On the day he filed his nominations, Ganguly said, “I will find out from the selectors when I meet them on 24 October. I will find out what the selectors are thinking.”
He even said that he will also ask Dhoni what he wants.
One week later, when he officially began his tenure, Ganguly reiterated that he was yet to meet Dhoni.
He, however, had some reassuring words for Dhoni fans:
“Till I am around, everybody will be respected and that doesn’t change. You know champions don’t finish quickly. I don’t know what’s in his (Dhoni) mind and what he thinks about his career.”
"I am yet to talk to him. I will have a word soon with one of the greats of the Indian game,” Ganguly concluded.
It was only ahead of the Bangladesh series that a definitive picture emerged, when Prasad took the mic once again.
When asked about Dhoni, Prasad said they are ‘moving on’, clearly indicating that the veteran is no longer in their scheme of things.
“I made it very clear post the World Cup that we are moving on. We are giving opportunities to youngsters and see that they establish themselves in the side.”MSK Prasad on 24 October 2019
"With Pant doing so well and even Sanju Samson coming into the side, I am sure you must be understanding our thought process,” Prasad clarified.
Prasad was quite blunt in his response on Dhoni.
With Dhoni yet to make any kind of official announcement and him returning to training with the U-23 Jharkhand side, one thing is for sure, nothing is off the plate.
Add to this Ganguly’s reassurance that ‘everybody will be respected’ and you can be rest assured that at least a farewell series for Dhoni is on the cards.
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