Would the newly constituted, Sunil Joshi-led selection committee have had to decide whether or not to pick MS Dhoni if the T20 World Cup in Australia had not been postponed from this year? It never came down to that as the former skipper called time on his international career, taking to Instagram—his favoured social media handle that gives a glimpse into the personal life of one of Indian cricket's biggest, but most private, superstars.
Former chairman of selectors MSK Prasad says Dhoni's retirement may have been prompted by the T20 World Cup postponement.
"He was having this feeling that he should wait till the World Cup this year. Because it has been pushed back, it may have prompted him to take this decision.
"I was the selection committee chairman and we kept talking as it was my duty to talk with him. As far as one-day cricket is concerned, I don't think he was ever going to look to play ODIs again. In T20 cricket, he was waiting to see if the team needed his services," he adds.
Prasad's comments are in line with those of head coach Ravi Shastri's, who felt in January that Dhoni may have given up one-day cricket, but he can't be ruled out for the T20 World Cup. When the former skipper wasn't given a central contract on January 16 though, a top BCCI official said Dhoni had played his last game in India colours.
IN HIS CONTROL
Whether to add to his storied T20 international career was no longer a decision for 39-year-old Dhoni alone to make. When to quit was his call, which he made known with a poetic post, over a collage of his remarkable cricketing journey.
No one in the CSK camp knew, except possibly team mate Suresh Raina, who is close to Dhoni. Raina too announced his India retirement on Saturday. "He came back from practice in the evening. Nobody knew at that time and he announced at 7.29pm. I had no idea," says KS Viswanathan, Chennai Super Kings CEO.
Dhoni's white-ball retirement wasn't as sudden as his exit from Test cricket in December, 2014, when he informed BCCI in the middle of a series in Australia. Then BCCI secretary, Sanjay Patel, recalls, "I got a call from Dhoni after the Melbourne Test that he wanted to announce his retirement. I asked him if he was sure, and he said he was. When asked what reason we should put out, he said his body wasn't supporting him to play all formats. He didn't want us to wait, but make it public then and there."
For the man who led India to No.1 in ICC Test rankings, a series loss in Australia was his farewell in the format. India's captain who helped end a 28-year wait for a second ODI World Cup success will also have the 2019 World Cup semi-final loss against New Zealand as his final chapter in white-ball cricket for India. Dhoni though has never been one for fanfare over farewells.
Perhaps, he will indulge in a celebratory exit in IPL, wearing CSK's yellow jersey. "We know he is leading CSK in IPL. Based on his fitness, I think he will definitely play more seasons. Two more, maybe even more," says Viswanathan.
The CSK old timer quickly adds: "But that's me saying, not him."