Watch: MS Dhoni hands match ball to Sanjay Bangar to silence retirement talks
After a scratchy 2018 that saw him average a paltry 25 in ODIs, MS Dhoni celebrated the new year with some new-found form in the Australia ODIs. He registered three successive fifties to help India win the series and earned himself the Man of the Series award too.
Considering his struggles with the bat last year, there has been a heavy debate about his place in the side, with critics pointing at the dried-up run column and middling strike-rate of 'the best finisher'.
Watch Dhoni's hilarious conversation with Bangar from 0:37 to 0:42
On Friday, after anchoring the side to a series-winning score, Dhoni shut the critics yet again, ridiculing, in his own way, the retirement talks that had been making the rounds.
A video grab from his post-game walk back to the pavilion captures him handing the match ball to batting coach Sanjay Bangar, with the statement" "Ball lelo, nahi to bolega retirement le rahe ho." (Take the ball or they'll say I'm retiring).
Incidentally, just a few months back in England, Dhoni was spotted taking the match ball from the umpires after the third ODI in Headingley. The small gesture was enough for Twiterrati to start its speculation, with several users suggesting that the ball was possibly taken because of an impending retirement announcement.
Head coach Ravi Shastri had to clarify later, stating that Dhoni took the ball to show it to the bowling coach, for the wear and tear it had endured during the course of the game.
"That's rubbish. MS is not going anywhere," the coach had said.
Dhoni ended the Australia ODIs with an average of 193.00, falling second behind Shaun Marsh as the series' leading run-getter.
His 96-ball 51, in a losing cause in the first ODI, came under severe scrutiny, with a large faction of followers baying for his blood and demanding Rishabh Pant to be included for the World Cup instead.
The 37-year-old Dhoni then returned with two more fifties, playing an important hand in back-to-back wins, as India clinched its first bilateral ODI series win in Australia.
With the match ball in his kitty and runs under his belt, Dhoni will now travel to New Zealand for the next set of ODIs to be played, ahead of the all-important World Cup.