Bengaluru, July 17: Till the 2019 Cricket World Cup happened, talks were about Mahendra Singh Dhoni playing in his final quadrennial tournament. The script was perhaps as simple as the legendary wicket-keeper hanging up his boots with India winning their third world title.
It would have been a fairy-tale conclusion to a golden career. But as in life, cricket isn't about dream conclusions always. And Dhoni was left returning in pain as a direct throw from Martin Guptill had dashed the Men in Blue's final hope of winning the trophy once more.
As soon as India found themselves out of the fray, the focus shifted to Dhoni again and this time, the question was: When will Dhoni quit? The speculation only went on snowballing after captain Virat Kohli and the selectors said that the 38-year-old had told them nothing about his future plans.
Perhaps no other cricketer apart from the great Sachin Tendulkar had been under such intense focus when it came to the retirement call. For Dhoni, an extra-ordinary departure is expected since his career has been no ordinary. Coming from a nondescript cricketing background, Dhoni's rise to conquer the world has changed the story of Indian cricket for ever and there is no doubt that the exit of such a personality will not be easy for anybody to cope with, including the cricketer himself.
But one also feels that those in power at the moment in Indian cricket are failing to handle this phase fluently. When Tendulkar had retired from the ODIs, it was not a very smooth phase either but credit lied with Dhoni, the then captain, to convey the message to the Master Blaster that it was time to exit gracefully. Tendulkar hadn't featured in colours for India again after the Asia Cup in early 2012 although he had informed the selectors that he was available for more cricket later that year.
When it comes to Dhoni, it seems nobody has in it to approach him to 'bell the cat'. Kohli could be one to do the unpleasant job since he is in charge of the team but then again, one supposes the rapport between him and his predecessor is acting as an impediment.
This difficulty in conveying messages to players with high stature is an issue with the Indian psychology. Former Australia captain Steve Waugh recently said about Dhoni's retirement issue that in their country, phasing out senior players is done professionally. Though he also conceded that in India where the masses madly follow cricket, it is a tad more difficult for the superstars to call it a day straightaway.
It is a big discomfort for the wise men of Indian cricket to dump Dhoni in case he still doesn't call it quits. Sources are now saying that the veteran will be used in helping in the transition phase but let's face it: These stances are nothing but helplessness in settling the Dhoni puzzle. The best solution lies in the hands of the Ranchi cricketer himself for if he retires, the pressure on the selectors and team management will evaporate in a flash. But as long as he is not doing it, there will be ways - even meaningless at times - to 'accommodate' the legend.
Dhoni, as of now, has kept everybody guessing.