Ishant Sharma opening up on MS Dhoni’s retirement in Australia opined that Dhoni’s decision might have stemmed from the possibility of grooming Wriddhiman Saha for the home tours. He also recalled an episode with Dhoni, when the former skipper was left hanging by Ishant in his last Test.
MS Dhoni’s retirement midway through the Australian series in 2014 came as real surprise for the fans, who still believed that the wicketkeeper was fit enough to play on for the country. However, the other side of things - that was the last leg of overseas tours for the country, with the next two years at home, which would have helped for the smooth transition of wicketkeepers.
Dhoni’s retirement allowed Wriddhiman Saha to settle in the Indian squad and become a mainstay over the next few years. While Dhoni has never opened the lid on his retirement to date, Ishant Sharma during a conversation with Ravichandran Ashwin on his YouTube channel, stated that the former Indian skipper’s decision might have come as a step to groom Wriddhiman Saha as India's permanent wicketkeeper.
"Although he was close to 100 Tests, he was always a team man. I remember he told me when we were in England that it is not important for him to play hundred Tests. Instead, he felt that we need to start grooming (Wriddhiman) Saha. That’s why he took the sudden decision to retire, I feel,” Ishant told Ashwin on his YouTube channel.
In Dhoni’s last Test, Indian pacer Ishant was down with pain, with him playing on injections due to severe knee pain. While he was unaware of the former Indian skipper’s retirement, during tea-time on day four, it was Dhoni himself, who had informed the lanky pacer about his retirement.
“When it was almost Tea on Day 4, and Australia were about to declare I told Mahi bhai that I cannot take injections any more. So, he told me, that’s okay. You don’t need to bowl now. Then something happened, and he told me, ‘lambu tune mujhe Test match mein chhod diya’ (you have deserted me in a Test match). I did not understand. Then he elaborated, ‘you left me midway in my last Test match’”, Ishant added.
“I was stunned. I told him if I knew I would definitely have continued to play. So that was a really touching story. I didn’t know till the last day that he was retiring,” he concluded.