Former India skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni and his long-time teammate Suresh Raina shocked their fans and the cricket world with their sudden decision to bid adieu to international cricket on one fateful Saturday evening in August.
They started their international careers almost together and ended it sitting together in Chennai, where the duo were at that time with their Chennai Super Kings teammates attending a preparatory camp before the 2020 Indian Premier League in UAE.
And just like that, two of India’s most successful limited-overs batsmen brought their innings in the international arena to an end.
The ‘Insta’ farewells…
True to the age we are living in right now – the age of social media, the two cricketers and close friends, decided to share the news of ending their international careers by sending out Instagram posts to their millions of followers/fans.
They chose a historical day to bid their goodbyes, 15th August – as India celebrated its Independence Day.
First it was former skipper ‘Captain Cool’ Mahendra Singh Dhoni, 39, who uploaded a video with a photo montage of his playing days with legendary singer Mukesh’s evergreen song ‘Main pal do pal ka shayar hoon…’ playing in the background. The video has been viewed for more than 36 million times since then.
Dhoni even gave an exact time he had decided to hang up his boots as he wrote: “Thanks a lot for ur love and support throughout. from 1929 hrs consider me as Retired.”
Before fans could come to terms with the news, Dhoni’s close friend and teammate Raina, then 33, also posted a message on his instagram page, saying he is following Dhoni in the new journey and hanging up his international boots too.
Raina’s post simply read: “It was nothing but lovely playing with you, @mahi7781 [Dhoni]. With my heart full of pride, I choose to join you in this journey. Thank you India. Jai Hind!”
Prime Minister Narendra Modi led the congratulatory messages for the two India greats, who had served the country on the cricket ground for almost a decade and a half. PM Modi penned heartwarming letters to both Dhoni and Raina for their wonderful careers.
“130 crore Indians are eternally grateful,” Modi wrote thanking Dhoni for his contribution to Indian cricket.
An Artist,Soldier and Sportsperson what they crave for is appreciation, that their hard work and sacrifice is getti… https://t.co/YfZlyopymU
— Mahendra Singh Dhoni (@msdhoni) 1597911922000
In his letter to Raina, Modi wrote – “You are way too young and energetic to retire”.
Wishes poured in for the talismanic captain and the stylish batsman soon after their announcement:
Your contribution to Indian cricket has been immense, @msdhoni. Winning the 2011 World Cup together has been the be… https://t.co/eZi3iG3yvP
— Sachin Tendulkar (@sachin_rt) 1597503428000
Congratulations, Suresh on a wonderful career playing 🏏 for India.Still remember our partnership & on-field conve… https://t.co/MuLAl6lldA
— Sachin Tendulkar (@sachin_rt) 1597509182000
Every cricketer has to end his journey one day, but still when someone you’ve gotten to know so closely announces t… https://t.co/OC64wsGZdw
— Virat Kohli (@imVkohli) 1597506658000
Congratulations on a top career Bhavesh. Goodluck with everything ahead 😊👍 @ImRaina
— Virat Kohli (@imVkohli) 1597507140000
Massive boots to fill. It’s been a privilege and honour to be part of the dressing room and seeing you as a thoroug… https://t.co/LK5ZBE6JoG
— Ravi Shastri (@RaviShastriOfc) 1597507868000
Congratulations @msdhoni on a great career! Enjoyed lifting the 2007 and 2011 WC trophies together for our country… https://t.co/j6mobCpy83
— Yuvraj Singh (@YUVSTRONG12) 1597590660000
Suresh boy! I thought you had a bit more in you! But nevertheless you have played some really important innings in… https://t.co/fqspqhsOSx
— Yuvraj Singh (@YUVSTRONG12) 1597594281000
December 23, 2004 – vs Bangladesh in Chattogram: Run-out for 0. That’s how Dhoni’s international career began. Little did people know that he would go on to become one of the best and fastest runners between the wickets in the next 349 ODIs, 98 T20Is and 90 Tests, accumulating 17266 international runs.
The 39-year-old’s last outing in India colours was during the 2019 World Cup semi-final against New Zealand, which India lost. Incidentally, the innings ended in a run out, but this time he made 50.
One of the most charismatic figures in world cricket, Dhoni left the international area after achieving almost everything there is to achieve. He led India to No. 1 in the ICC Test rankings, won a T20 World Cup (2007), won an ODI World Cup (2011) and an ICC Champions Trophy title (2013). He became the most efficient finisher in world cricket. He played 538 international matches (Tests, ODIs and T20Is combined), scoring over 17,000 international runs, which included 6 Test and 10 ODI centuries. With excellent glovework behind the stumps, Dhoni also created many wicket-keeping records in his 15-year long career, like the most number of stumpings in ODIs – 123.
Dhoni retired as India’s most successful limited-overs skipper and remains the only captain to have won all three ICC trophies – 2007 T20 World Cup, 50-over World Cup in 2011 and the 2013 ICC Champions Trophy.
Less than a year after Dhoni’s international debut, on July 30, 2005 – vs Sri Lanka in Dambulla: 0 lbw first ball. The then 18-year-old left-handed middle-order batsman had the worst possible start to his international career. But Suresh Raina went on to become one of the most reliable middle-order batsmen for India in limited overs cricket. He was part of the ODI World Cup winning team in 2011. In fact, he became the first Indian to score centuries in all three formats of the game.
Raina played a total of 322 international matches for India, scoring 7988 runs, with 1 Test and 5 ODI centuries. He will also always be remembered as one of the best fielders to have played for India.