Mumbai - India captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni
laughed off talk of retirement as he put a brave face on the devastating World
Twenty20 semi-final loss to the West Indies.
The hosts came into the tournament with
sky-high confidence but also widespread speculation that it could be the last
international outing for Dhoni, 34.
But after India's stunning defeat by seven
wickets, it was left to an Australian journalist to put the burning question to
Dhoni at Mumbai's Wankhede Stadium.
Dhoni then asked the somewhat stunned Sam
Ferris of the cricket.com.au website onto the dais, put his arm around him, and
turned the tables by becoming the interviewer.
"Do you want me to retire?" he
said. "Do you think I am unfit, looking at my running? Do you think I can
survive until the 2019 World Cup?"
When Ferris replied that Dhoni indeed
looked more than capable of staying in shape until the next 50-over World Cup,
a laughing Dhoni then responded: "Then you have answered the
"I wished it was an Indian media guy
because I would have asked him if he had a son old enough, and a wicketkeeper,
to play!" he said.
The light-hearted exchange came at the end
of a painful loss for the wicketkeeper-batsman's team who had been red-hot
favourites to win the trophy on home soil.
After India had scored a slightly below-par
total of 192 for two in their 20 overs, the West Indies' run chase got off to a
terrible start when Chris Gayle was bowled for just five.
But first Johnson Charles and then Lendl
Simmons and Andre Russell started thrashing the Indian bowlers around the
ground as they struggled to make the ball grip in heavy dew.
Their cause was not helped by the agony of
seeing Simmons twice dismissed only to be reprieved both times when slow motion
replays showed that Ravichandran Ashwin and then Hardik Pandya had overstepped.
Simmons, playing in his first match of the
tournament as a late call-up for the injured Andre Charles, went on to smash a
match-winning 82 off 51 balls.
If Simmons and the West Indies rode their
luck, Dhoni was left to curse his bad fortune which began when he lost a
crucial toss and was made to bat first.
"The difference between the first
innings and the second innings when it comes to the surface was too much,"
said Dhoni as he spoke about his bowlers' struggles.
"In the first innings you will have
seen there was a bit of assistance for the spinners, it was gripping a bit, but
there was nothing much in the second innings."
Although India's star batsman Virat Kohli
scored an unbeaten 89, Dhoni acknowledged that they were about 10 runs short in
their innings but refused to criticise his players.
"The only thing I am disappointed
about is the two no-balls, other than that we tried our best," he said.
"Luck is a factor definitely but at
the end of the day you have to play good cricket. There's none of the
tournaments we have won was because of good luck. There's nothing called good
luck, you have to execute your plans well."
Before the match, West Indies' skipper
Darren Sammy had said the semi-final was a "David and Goliath"
encounter, with more than a billion Indians willing their team to win.
Victory in the tournament would have been
the icing on the cake for Dhoni who also skippered India to victory on home
soil in the 2011 World Cup and in the inaugural World T20 in South Africa in
Kohli has already replaced him as Test
captain but Dhoni, who is India's most successful captain, remains a popular
figure in the dressing-room.