BY LEO MULLALY
Fans across social media were abuzz after triumphant Indian World Cup captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni announced his retirement through an Instagram post on the night of India’s 74th Independence Day.
Dhoni published a video with a caption that suggested he would retire at exactly 7:29pm on August 15, 2020.
“Thanks a lot for [your] love and support throughout. From 1929 hrs consider me as retired,” Dhoni wrote alongside his Instagram video.
Fans across the globe took to social media to express their thoughts on the 39-year-old’s retirement.
Dhruv Khanna, an administrator for the Facebook cricket fan page The Slips Cordon, said Dhoni will be missed by cricket fans around the world.
“He’s an icon, and I think that he’s the last link to this big golden era of [Sachin] Tendulkar, [Rahul] Dravid, and [Sourav] Ganguly for Indian cricket,” Mr Khanna said.
“He wasn’t the best captain in terms of tactics, but he had this ability to just play hunches and have them come off with spectacular results.”
Mr Khanna said his favourite moment from Dhoni’s career was his performance in the 2011 World Cup final, where India defeated Sri Lanka in Mumbai by six wickets to win the trophy after 28 years. Dhoni remained unbeaten on 91, as his six in the penultimate-over led to India’s win.
“[My favourite moment has] got to be that towering six to seal the World Cup,” Mr Khanna said.
“[Virender] Sehwag and [Sachin] Tendulkar were gone early, Muralitharan was in dangerous form, and Dhoni provided an ice cool head to help guide India home with a mix of calm and flair.”
Avid cricket lover and Monash University student Kshitij Murali also felt Dhoni’s famous six-over long-on at Wankhede Stadium on April 2, 2011 to seal the World Cup, was his favourite moment.
“[It was] career defining for him and an unforgettable moment for any Indian fan,” Mr Murali said.
The heroic wicketkeeper-batsman played 90 Tests, 350 ODIs, and 58 T20s. Under his leadership India won the 2007 T20 World Cup and the 2011 ODI World Cup.
He also led India to the ICC Champions Trophy in 2013, becoming the only captain to ever win all three trophies - a record which is intact to date.
Dhoni ends his career with 444 ODI dismissals, which is the third-most by any wicketkeeper. He also scored more than 10,000 runs with the bat in the 50-over format and finished with an ODI batting average of 50.57 and a T20I average of 37.60.
He is the first non-Australian to win 100 ODI matches as captain and holds the record for the most runs, batting at number six in ODIs.
He also scored an important half-century in his last match against New Zealand in the World Cup semi-final held last year.
Unfortunately, his ability to win the match was cut short with a direct hit, leaving him run-out and ending his combative knock, leading the Blackcaps to a victory.
Mr Murali felt Dhoni’s attitude and on-field behaviour would be missed most.
“[I will miss] that cool head behind the stumps, casually directing the field as well,” Mr Murali said.
“He was quite funny on the field, a lot of Indian cricket fans didn’t see that fun and laughing side of Dhoni.”
Passionate cricket fan and University of Melbourne student Saxon Davidson said Dhoni’s choice to retire was the right decision.
“It was a mere formality. There were no real opportunities for him to be included in the limited-over Indian sides,” Mr Davidson said.
“However, it’s definitely anti-climactic that he won’t get a farewell match.”
Despite retiring from international cricket, the wicketkeeper-batsman will continue to captain the Indian Premier League (IPL) side Chennai Super Kings (CSK) this year. The tournament will commence from September 19 in the United Arab Emirates.
The Board of Control for Cricket in India [BCCI] will also approach him during the IPL regarding hosting a farewell match or series.