Countless times when India has needed him, Mahendra Singh Dhoni has shouldered the responsibility and carried the team across the finish line. On Wednesday was one such occasion when all of India hoped he would do it again. But cricket can be cruel.
It was not to be Dhoni’s day as India succumbed to a shock 18-run loss to New Zealand in the World Cup semi-final. The 38-year-old had struggled with the bat throughout the tournament and has often been criticised for his “slow play” over the last month.
But fans, emotional after the defeat, decided now was not the time to place blame and instead chose to remember his remarkable career over the past decade and a half as #ThankYouMSD remained the top trend on Twitter on Thursday morning.
The outpouring of love only increased after a video emerged of the legendary wicketkeeper-batsman seemingly struggling to hold back his tears after getting dismissed in the match. Although it was not very clear from the video if Dhoni really was teary-eyed, the fans were convinced and were intent on consoling him too.
It was a sight that shook his fans as Captain Cool rarely expresses his emotions on the field.
Can't see him #cryIt was probably the last time i said,"Last over tak gaya to #Dhoni nikal lega" 😢#ThankYouDhoni #ThalaDhoni #Dhoni #indiavsNewzealand2019 #CWC19 pic.twitter.com/05ohGZfwJ2— Prateek Shrivas (@Prateek59421922) July 10, 2019
Oh god😭😭😭😭😭😭never n ever saw dhoni like this!!!plz don’t cry dhoni!!!we r with u!!!u did ur besttttt!!!its hurting me more than the match loss n I started crying here after seeing this!! #INDvsNZ @msdhoni pic.twitter.com/l22GeWBhxU— Padmika vysyaraju (@impadmika) July 10, 2019
This brokes my heart 💔 Without him, many #Indians had lost their interest to watch cricket...😭😭 and i m the one of them😭Don't cry champ 🙏🙏Don't make us cry Dhoni The Legend♥️ #Dhoni #IndVsNewZealand #INDvNZL pic.twitter.com/jHDOgg6ymI— CHERVITH ANE NENU ❤💪 (@chervithanenenu) July 10, 2019
Dhoni was run-out in the penultimate over of the match as he fell short by a couple of inches from the crease. His wicket in the match was the final nail in the coffin and he walked back to the pavilion with a grimace, knowing fully well that for once he was not able to finish the job.
Speculations that Dhoni might announce his retirement from international cricket after the World Cup, despite any word from him, meant that the emotions were even more pronounced.