This weekend, cricket fans woke up to a surprising announcement – Mahendra Singh Dhoni and Suresh Raina have retired from the game.
“Thanks a lot for ur love and support throughout. From 1929 hrs consider me as Retired (sic),” Dhoni wrote on social media.
Minutes later, Raina posted an image with his teammates from the Chennai Super Kings, saying “It was nothing but lovely playing with you. With my heart full of pride, I choose to join you in this journey.”
Starting as a humble railway ticket collector in Ranchi to being included in the cricket’s greatest list, Mahendra Singh Dhoni’s life journey has been fittingly made into a Bollywood biopic. And yet, there is more to the man and the cricketer.
It was under his leadership that India lifted the World Cup trophy in 2011, after having led India to triumph in the World T20 held in 2007 in South Africa. With India winning the Champions Trophy in 2013 in England, Dhoni became the first and is still the only captain to date to have won all three ICC Trophies.
While his heroics in the limited-overs formats are well documented, it was also under his leadership that India became the No. 1 Test side in 2009 and the team stayed at the top for over 600 days. He has led India to victory in 21 home Test matches, the most by an Indian captain.
M.S. Dhoni never won a Man of the Match award in T20 Internationals. His innings were mostly about holding up one end while an in-form batsman took on the bowlers at the other. However, his anchor acts were crucial to India’s cause on multiple occasions during his illustrious career.
The retirement announcement has ended speculation around the international future of the enigmatic 39-year-old, who quit Test cricket in 2014. However, Dhoni will continue as a member of the Chennai Super Kings ahead of the IPL 2020.
M.S. Dhoni’s wife Sakshi put out a heartfelt message on Instagram after the announcement, saying “I am sure you must have held back those tears to say goodbye to your passion.”
Suresh Raina, an indispensable part of Dhoni’s squad for over a decade and an equally talented part of the Chennai Super Kings, retires after a career spanning more than 13 years.
The 33-year-old represented India in more than 300 international matches, displaying skill as a left-handed batsman. He’s been considered one of the finest T20 batsmen in the world, having made 1605 runs in his 78 T20 international appearances. He’s also amassed nearly 8000 international runs across all formats.
Raina scored 5,615 runs in 226 ODI matches, which included five centuries and 1,605 runs, and one century in 78 T20s. He was the first indian player to score a century in T20 cricket and the first from the country to score a century in all three formats of the game.
Raina has been crucial in revolutionising India’s fielding. His athleticism on the field has given him an impressive 167 catches in his international career. His last match was in 2018 in a T20 appearance against England. He was part of the Indian teams that won the 2011 World Cup and the 2013 Champions Trophy, both under the captaincy of Dhoni.
Both Dhoni and Raina’s retirement news made waves, with tributes coming in from actors, cricketers, and fans from around the world.
Their Indian teammates like Virat Kohli and Rohit Sharma, too, posted tributes to their illustrious careers.
“Words fall short a lot of times in life and I think this is one of those moments. All I can say is you will always be the guy who sat in the last seat of the bus. Not saying much but your presence, aura say a lot,” Kohli said in a video message posted by BCCI to Dhoni.
“For me, you have always been that guy and I am sure you will continue to be so. We have shared a great friendship, camaraderie and understanding and that has happened because you always played for the same goal which is to make the team win.”