India coach Ravi Shastri with MS Dhoni during a practice session Image: AFP
MS Dhoni running to the umpire to get the match ball after India's loss to England in the 3rd ODI at Headingley triggered widespread speculation that the former India captain may have played his last ODI for India. The rumours spread on social media like wildfire and prompted India coach Ravi Shastri to come out to clear the air about Mahi's future.
Dhoni's actions seem to have been a bit off character, considering India lost the match. Asking for the match ball after a loss isn't a norm in cricket. Furthermore, fans are accustomed to seeing Dhoni go for a stump as a souvenir after a win rather than the match ball.
The 37-year-old has been at the receiving end of a lot of criticism for his displays with the bat recently, which added fuel and some far-fetched context to the rumours. Here's the video.
Shastri, on Wednesday, came out to clear the air and quashed all the speculation. "That's rubbish. MS is not going anywhere," he said in an exchange with the press.
The Team India coach also provided a justification for Dhoni taking the match ball, saying, "MS wanted to show the ball to (bowling coach) Bharat Arun. He wanted to show him the wear and tear the ball had endured, to get a general idea of what the conditions were like."
"But right now, all this clamour is nonsense. He just wanted to show the ball to Arun to just have a look at it after close to 45 overs had been bowled," Shastri added, while speaking to a leading daily.
That's rubbish. MS is not going anywhere. Ravi Shastri, coach, India cricket team
To recall, Dhoni stunningly retired from Test cricket in the middle of India's 2014 tour of Australia, at a time when his performances in the longest format of the game had come under the scanner.
Speculation about the World Cup 2011-winning captain's future in limited-overs cricket began after India were ousted from the World T20 2016 following a semifinal loss to the West Indies and only intensified after he decided to give up his ODI and T20 captaincy back in 2017.
But the Ranchi player had come out himself to quash the rumours, saying he will only take a call after the World Cup 2019.
Dhoni's legendary finishing skills and ability to accelerate the innings have been on the wane, triggering immense criticism from a section of the media and cricket fans. But current skipper Virat Kohli has backed him to the hilt, dismissing any doubts about the veteran player's ability.
Mahi recently became only the second wicketkeeper-batsman to touch the 10,000-run mark in ODI cricket.