Dhoni seeks match ball, sets speculation swirling on future

The act was an unusual one for Dhoni, who is more known for collecting stumps after winning matches.

Mahendra Singh Dhoni’s future has once again become fodder for speculation after the talismanic-but-currently-off-colour former India skipper sought the match ball at the end of the lost third ODI against England in Leeds.

The 37-year-old wicketkeeper-batsman was seen seeking the ball from the umpires as players left the ground after India lost by eight wickets on Tuesday night to go down 1-2 in the series.

The act was an unusual one for Dhoni, who is more known for collecting stumps after winning matches. The 30-second clip went viral on social media and accompanying it were questions on whether the two-time World Cup-winning skipper had dropped a hint at retirement.

However, sources in the team management dismissed the talk as nothing more than “rumours”.

Dhoni, who retired stunningly from Test cricket in the middle of India’s 2014 tour of Australia, has been under the scanner of late for not being able to score as prolifically as he has been known to.

His legendary finishing skills and the ability to accelerate innings have been on the wane but current skipper Virat Kohli has backed him to the hilt, dismissing any criticism directed at the senior player.

Retirement has always been a sensitive topic for Dhoni and he had once dramatically quashed the speculation for at least until the 2019 World Cup in an animated conversation with an Australian journalist.

The question was directed at him after India were ousted from the 2016 World T20 following a semifinal loss to the West Indies.

Dhoni had famously asked the journalist to join him at the dais and with one arm around his shoulder, the then Indian captain had gone on to counter-question whether the scribe wanted him to retire or considered him unfit.

The light-hearted exchange had put the speculation to rest as Dhoni had dropped enough hints to suggest that he was looking to play at least until the 2019 ODI World Cup in England.

However, the rumour mills were once again set in motion on Wednesday.

In 321 ODIs, Dhoni has scored 10046 runs at an average of 51.25. He has 10 hundreds and 67 fifties to his name. Dhoni has 1487 runs in 93 T20 Internationals at an average of 37.17, including two fifties.

Under Dhoni’s captaincy, India won the ODI World Cup in 2011 after claiming the World Twenty20 title in 2007. Dhoni also led India to the ICC Champions Trophy in 2013 in England.

He is only the second wicketkeeper-batsman to touch the 10000-run mark in ODI cricket.

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