Dhoni turns interviewer to quash retirement talk
In an unusual move India captain MS Dhoni invited a journalist to sit alongside him when asked if he was going to retire immediately after India were knocked out of the World T20 by West Indies. The journalist, an overseas correspondent, simply asked: "You have achieved virtually everything that a cricketer could. Are you keen to continue playing on?"
Dhoni said "sorry" first, asking the question to be repeated. Having heard it again, with a big smile, he waved at the journalist, inviting him to come and sit next to him to discuss the question. "Come here. Let's have some fun. Come here," he said. The journalist obviously was not sure if Dhoni was being serious. Dhoni insisted. "Come, come, come. Seriously. Yeah, come," Dhoni said pulling a chair towards him.
As everyone in the media room looked on, the journalist walked and sat next to Dhoni. "You want me to retire?" Dhoni asked, putting his right arm around the journalist. The journalist said: "No, I don't. I was just asking."
Dhoni's response was surprising considering he has responded in the past to similar questions on retirement with a smile and a shake of the head many a times. But on this occasion Dhoni carried on. "I was hoping it was an Indian media guy because I can't really say if you have a brother or a son who can play for India as a keeper," he said while rubbing his beard with his left hand.
Unprompted, he then said to the journalist: "Do you think I am unfit?" To which the journalist replied no. "Looking at me running," Dhoni continued to which the journalist responded "very fast".
"Do you think I can survive till the 2019 World Cup?" Dhoni asked next to which the response was "sure, yes, sure." "Then you have answered the question," Dhoni told the journalist and also gave him a pat on his back.
As the room filled up with laughter, Dhoni continued. "I wish it was an Indian media guy because I would have asked whether he has a son who is old enough to play and is a wicketkeeper to play. He would have said 'no' then I would have said maybe a brother who can play and who is a wicketkeeper. You fired the wrong ammunition at the wrong time," he said, pointing once again to the overseas correspondent.
Nagraj Gollapudi is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo