R Sridhar recalls how MS Dhoni hinted at his retirement during 2019 World Cup

The 2019 World Cup semi-final game against New Zealand was MS Dhoni's last in international cricket.

MS Dhoni and Rishabh Pant
MS Dhoni and Rishabh Pant. (Photo Source: DIBYANGSHU SARKAR/AFP via Getty Images)

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Most people agree that Mahendra Singh Dhoni is one of the best captains in the history of cricket. The former Indian wicketkeeper-batsman was the first person to win all ICC trophies while serving as captain as he guided the team to victories in the first T20 World Cup in 2007 and the ODI World Cup in 2011, as well as the Champions Trophy in 2013. 

During his leadership tenure in the traditional format of the game, he clinched the ICC Test Mace twice. Dhoni’s last international game was the semi-final match against New Zealand in the 2019 ODI World Cup as he announced his retirement in August 2020. Dhoni made his final appearance for the Indian side at the 2019 World Cup before announcing his retirement from international play in 2020.

R Sridhar, the former fielding coach for India, recently made a startling admission regarding how Dhoni actually signaled that he had played his last game for India in a chat with Rishabh Pant, who went on to follow Dhoni as the team's regular wicketkeeper-batter. Sridhar disclosed a chat that the two wicketkeepers had on the reserve day of India’s game against the Kiwis.

Sharing the incident in his book ‘Coaching Beyond- My days with the Indian cricket team’, he wrote:

“I can now reveal that at the time of the interview to the BCCI, which I attended from Antigua, I was reasonably certain that for all practical purposes, MS had played his last match for the country. He hadn't announced it, of course, but I will tell you why I knew. On the morning of the reserve day in our World Cup semifinal against New Zealand in Manchester, I was the first person at the breakfast hall. I was nursing my coffee when MS and Rishabh walked in, picked up their stuff, and joined me at my table.”

I didn't say a word to anyone about this conversation out of sheer respect for the man: Sridhar

Sridhar revealed how Dhoni hinted that the game against New Zealand was his last, but he kept it to himself and did not speak to anyone about it. In his book, he said that he did not let anyone know about this out of ‘sheer respect’ for the legendary player. Scoring a 72-ball 50, Dhoni was run-out in the game against New Zealand, a scene that hurts many Indian cricket fans

“New Zealand had only a couple of overs to bat out and we'd start our innings thereafter, so the match would end reasonably early. Rishabh told MS in Hindi, 'Bhaiyya, some of the guys are planning to leave for London today itself privately. Would you be interested?' MS replied, 'No, Rishabh, I don't want to miss my last bus drive with the team.'”

“I didn't say a word to anyone about this conversation out of sheer respect for the man. He had taken me into confidence. I couldn't shoot my mouth off. So, I didn't utter a word not to Ravi, not to Arun, not even to my wife,” said Sridhar.

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