Speculations were rife ahead of the 2019 Cricket World Cup that former India skipper MS Dhoni could hang his boots after the marquee tournament. There was also a hope that India – led by Virat Kohli – a well-balanced and potent unit will lift the trophy. There was also a feeling that Dhoni – who was 37 at that time – would look to sign off on a high, like, maybe Imran Khan.
Unfortunately, all those hopes of a fairytale send-off were put to rest after Kohli’s India succumbed to a heartbreaking loss at the hands of New Zealand in the semis.
While some criticised India’s most successful skipper ever – Dhoni – for his slow-paced batting, others reckoned it was time for him to call it a day, as a young and more aggressive Rishabh Pant, was in the waiting and was taking giant strides in international cricket.
Amid the talk of his retirement, India toured the West Indies for a short tour but Dhoni decided to go on a sabbatical which has continued to this day.
Here we take a look at what the talisman has been doing during the break.
Meeting The Army-men in J&K
Dhoni went to Jammu and Kashmir – where he spent some time with Territorial Army unit of the Parachute Regiment with which he holds an honorary rank. From polishing the boots to singing songs for the soldiers, playing tennis-ball cricket and volleyball, Dhoni did all while performing the guard and patrolling duties. This was in mid-August with videos/pictures surfacing online, and as expected going viral in no time.
Lt. Colonel Mahendra Singh Dhoni spotted playing volleyball with his Para Territorial Battalion!💙😊
— MS Dhoni Fans Official (@msdfansofficial) August 4, 2019
Retweet, If you are a Proud Fan Of LT COLONEL MSD. ❤️🇮🇳 pic.twitter.com/yKaV7fagYI
— DHONIsm™ ❤️ (@DHONIism) August 5, 2019
During this period, he also missed the home series against South Africa and Bangladesh and chief selector MSK Prasad made a statement where he said India is looking ahead, which clearly meant the side was looking at young Pant to take over. From Dhoni’s end, there was no clarity as he – in his own inimitable style – kept mum. The only statement that came from his end was that he wants to be left alone when asked by reporters at a promotional event.
The Family Vacation
This was during the New Year when the Dhonis went on a vacation to Mussoorie. He was seen enjoying quiet time in the snow-clad mountains with daughter Ziva. The video, shot in the -3 degrees temperature, showed the veteran wicket-keeper enjoying the snowfall in the company of his family.
Dhoni is a doting father. Time and again videos emerge on the social sphere of him playing with his daughter Ziva. A video in which he can be seen teaching Ziva how to ride a bike was a massive hit among the fans.
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In between, all of this, when the Indian team toured New Zealand, Dhoni had made time for another family outing to Kanha National Park, where he indulged in wildlife safaris with Sakshi, Ziva and friends. Dhoni also turned photographer and captured a tiger from his lens. Just after that, he went on a short holiday to the Maldives with former India cricketer Rudra Pratap Singh.