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Dhoni had to retire for this blog to un-retire*

August 17, 2020

Glorious CSK Captain Dhoni has gone full emo, releasing a longass Insta video to announce his international retirement in a simple but meaningly cryptic way. I expected him to email it in to the BCCI.

Raina did the most Raina thing ever and followed Dhoni into retirement, even making his own announcement on a repost of Dhoni’s post, a literal social media Raina jumphug. I can imagine the sincere delight with which this schedule must have been planned at the CSK camp, an ode to Baasha, for another figure Dhoni has attached himself to with the whole Thala thing. Or like the ingratiating end of the race in Ford vs Ferrari. 

I hope you’ve counted your likes lads. And copy pasted all your replies, if any. Because it means zilch if CSK doesn’t win the IPL this year. 

Wellofcourse for wizened analysts of CSK whether they like it or not, like myself, their international careers were just waiting to be formally declared over. Most India fans can wax eloquent knowing their watch is over. We still need these creaky vets to crank out what used to be clinical shows. Put the fear of the CSK middle order back in bowlers and fans. 

Your international white ball careers were magnificent, and influenced international cricket. One of your first standard partnerships came in a series clincher in Pune in 2006 against Sri Lanka and that’s a match I still think my folks could have let me go for because it was a holiday and I was home and my hostel friends had just watched that 183 live in Jaipur. I caught the first of Raina’s crucial cameos at Ahmedabad in 2011 and another punchy fifty at the Wankhede later that year but that’s about it. I saw Dhoni’s second ever ODI win as captain, the Murali Kartik heist at Wankhede in 2007, the kind of chases Dhoni made it a mission to finish himself later, including the big one in 2011 at the same ground. It was followed by SA piling up 438 in 2015, WI mowing down 190 in 2016 but I’ll take them with the equanimity of the man.

Dhoni’s inspired a lot of modern players (but is too encouraging of pitch invaders) and put you through an absolute wringer of emotions – and there were so many highs. There was the revelation of his captaincy, unexpectedly fetching trophies in 2007 and there’s the expectations we have now. He acted out on retirement questions, blocked with Dhonitalk, edged life it with Dhoniball, contributed, oversaw and made himself available through the respective transitions like a corporate VP; he went out there and gave it all till his last ball. That hit on the hand would have hurt then but that run out is something that would haunt lesser men for a lifetime. 

Raina’s a finisher I sadly can’t remember if we’ve replaced yet (it’s been so long since we’ve played), top notch fielder, team teddy bear, our first centurion across all formats, and probably an inspiration everywhere to kids who can’t play the short ball so well. 

The two have done more than enough, thrilled and gave me a lot of joy. The heart skipped a beat in that moment when the bowler started the run up and they were on strike or behind the wickets or lighting up the inner circle, or more rarely, even when bowling. Thank you. See you in Thubai.

*maybe, temporarily

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