New Delhi, August 17: Former India captain MS Dhoni surprised all when he announced his international retirement on Saturday (August 15) and drew curtains on an illustrious career which spanned 16 years.
At a time when fans were hoping that a good performance in the IPL 2020 will once again open doors for him in Team India, the 39-year-old wicketkeeper-batsman, who last played his international game during the ICC Cricket World Cup 2019 semi-final, decided to bid a silent adieu.
Former India wicketkeeper-batsman Ajay Ratra in an exclusive chat with MyKhel said the Jharkhand cricketer's decision to hang up his gloves in international cricket could be due to the postponement of the T20 World Cup 2020, which was scheduled to be held in Australia in October-November. With the T20 WC getting postponed due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Ratra opined that Dhoni might have chosen to call on his international career.
"Looking at the scenario, we had the feeling that MS (Dhoni) was looking to participate in this year's T20 World Cup and even the team management was also looking at him as an option. With the tournament being postponed due to the pandemic and the next World T20 nearly than one and half years away, he finally decided to call it quits. I think it was the right decision and he signed off in his own style by posting a message on Instagram," the former India cricketer said.
When asked about what could be Dhoni's next move the former wicketkeeper-batsman said, "He's still going to be play the IPL so we are going to watch him on the cricket pitch in the future as well. The kind of captain he is, CSK would want him to play for as long as he wants. Also, he has his academies in India, as well as abroad, so he's going to be engaged with his business. So his schedule is still going to be a tight one. Also, I have read some reports that he's getting invited to play in The Hundred in England. So you see, he still has a lot of cricket left and who knows, we might see him playing in other T20 leagues. But you can't really say much about Dhoni's future plans because there's always an air of mystery around him.
When questioned if the fans will see him play freely, now that the pressure of international cricket is off his shoulders, the Faridabad-based former cricketer said: "Pressure is always going to be there with a cricketer, be it international format or domestic league. So, I don't think so he's ever been bogged down by pressure. He's played like a king and dominated the world cricket. He's always played as per the demand of the situation. But definitely, you might see him more relaxed when he plays in the IPL and he might enjoy the game more."
Ratra also stated that with Dhoni being no more in the race, the focus for a wicketkeeper-batsman in the limited-overs format now shifts on young Rishabh Pant and Sanju Samson who could cement their spot in the side.
"Yes, it will be a good opportunity for both Rishabh and Sanju, as well as other young wicketkeeper-batsmen, to perform well and draw the attention of the selectors. As of now KL Rahul is doing a decent job behind the stumps but it depends on the team management whether they want to put that extra burden on Rahul or not. But having said that, it will be important that the likes of Rishabh and Sanju should compete amongst themselves and fight for the slot. Healthy competition is going to raise their game."
Talking about Suresh Raina's retirement Ratra said the Uttar Pradesh cricketer's decision was a bit early. "If you ask me, it was a little early because he's a good athlete and a sound batsman but he's had a surgery off late and that might have been a reason for him to take a call on his international career."
Reminiscing his early memories of young Dhoni when he realised the Ranchi cricketer is going to be big name in international cricket, Ratra said: "I remember we were playing a plate semi-final in Chandigarh and I was the captain of Haryana team in that game. We won that match after posting a huge total and Jharkhand were chasing but let me tell you, Dhoni's style of batting was the same. He scored a quick hundred in that game and at one stage we had placed fielders near the boundary ropes but he continued hitting sixes. That day I realised that he's someone special."