NEW DELHI: Mahendra Singh Dhoni's journey on the international stage finally came to an end as he announced retirement from international cricket on Saturday
"Thanks Thanks a lot for ur love and support throughout.from 1929 hrs consider me as Retired," he wrote on Instagram along with the video showing glimpses of his illustrious career.
Considered one of the greatest captains to play the game and arguably India's greatest, Dhoni's ride got a bit bumpy but in the end, the 37-year-old walked out with nothing but respect and achievements to hold on to.
Dhoni's arrival to world cricket came at a stage when India had many wicketkeepers coming into the fray but once he arrived, he made the spot his own for the next 15 years. Blessed with quick hands and huge tactical acumen, Dhoni's ability to read the game along with his brute power, made him a force to be reckoned with pretty soon in the Indian middle-order. Backed by then captain Sourav Ganguly to achieve big things, Dhoni made full use of the opportunity to make his presence felt.
Dhoni was always a hard-hitter of the cricket ball. His 143 against Pakistan and 183 against Sri Lanka forced people to compare him with Adam Gilchrist but what made Dhoni special was his ability to bat according to the situation and that came as he grew older and wiser and in the end, perhaps he became more of a Michael Bevan than the swashbuckling Gilchrist at the top.
However, despite the 17266 odd runs in international cricket, Dhoni would be remembered more for his captaincy than as a batsman. The batter faded as the body grew older but the mind got wiser and as he walks away, India finally have someone to lead the way for years to come in Virat Kohli.
Dhoni the captain walked in at a very difficult time. After the 2007 World Cup debacle in the Caribbean, something had to change in Indian cricket and the change was a young, long-haired Dhoni, who had little experience but great maturity to handle the pressure and deliver in crunch situations. Winning the 2007 T20 World Cup and then going on to conquer Australia Down Under, Dhoni's exploits in limited-overs cricket was making India a team to be feared and as Anil Kumble walked away, the onus fell on him and now he was the man for all the formats.
And, Mahi didn't disappoint.
Under him, India got the world No.1 status in 2009 for the first time in their history and also won a series in New Zealand. While Ganguly laid the foundation of success in the early 2000s and Dravi followed it up with a win in England in 2007 -- Dhoni took the team a step ahead. Impossible to beat at home and more than competitive away, Dhoni was someone, who assured the upcoming generation that Indian cricket is in good hands and it is going forward.
Dhoni's captaincy touched new heights when India lifted the World Cup in 2011. The innings in the final and the image of the winning shot over long-on along with Ravi Shastri's commentary will be immortalised and the captain didn't stop there. In 2013, under him, India won the 2013 Champions Trophy in England, thus, making him the only captain to win all three ICC tournaments. However, towards the end of 2014, after playing 90 Tests, Dhoni decided to walk way from the longest format of the game and hand the baton over to Virat Kohli to focus more on limited-overs cricket. There was no fuss, no big announcement as he walked away. In ODIs however, he guided India to the semi-finals of the 2015 World Cup Down Under but failed to beat eventual champions Australia. But, India's dominance in coloured clothing didn't end there, the Men In Blue reached the semis of the World T20 in 2016 and became the No.1 team in the world as well before Dhoni handed the captaincy over to Kohli in January 2017.
With less responsibility now, it was all about grooming Kohli for the upcoming World Cup and he did that with panache as India continue to dominate in the 50-over format.
However, his batting did take a hit. Once the greatest finisher of the game, Dhoni struggled to get off the pace quickly and then finish with a flurry. There would be odd innings, where he will smash the bowlers around towards the end but more often than not, the batsman struggled and on occasions booed off the field. But, despite all that, Dhoni was backed by Kohli and his importance in no way was to be undermined. At the end of the day, it was all about having him in the dressing room because of his presence and experience that could be weighed in goldust.
Dhoni's final innings was in xx and it was not how it started but a mellowed one...showing how the man evolved from being the man with a swagger to a classic gentleman walking away into the twilight.
Dhoni finished with 297 ODI appearances and scoring 10773 runs, including 10 centuries and 72 fifties. In 98 T20Is, Dhoni has scored 1617 runs at an average of 37.60, hitting two fifties. His career in whites remained underwhelming considering the talent he had. With just 4876 runs from 90 Tests but when you bat after India's 'Fab 4' -- it is difficult to have those averages above.
From a ticket checker in Kharagpur to lifting the trophy at Wankhede. From being Chennai's demigod to being booed at Lord's -- Mahi has seen it all and in the end, he walks away just it was expected of him -- calm, composed and gone with the wind.