On Thursday, Virat Kohli posted a photo on Twitter with the caption: “A game I can never forget. Special night. This man, made me run like in a fitness test. @msdhoni.” This throwback frame, which showed a visibly elated Kohli clasping onto his helmet with MS Dhoni in the foreground, was from the India-Australia World T20 fixture in Mohali three years ago. On that night, Kohli had scored a match-winning 82 not out to put India into the semifinals, but it was his out-of-the-world running between the wickets with Dhoni that was the highlight of their 67-run partnership. More than 20 lakh ‘hearts’ were touched on Kohli’s followers’ touchscreens, and soon speculation began to swirl that this photo was his farewell tribute to the former Indian captain.
Such excitement for a fairly innocuous tweet seemed understandble as, ever since the end of India’s campaign at the ODI World Cup in England, there has been intense speculation over Dhoni’s future. On the same day, there was a selection meeting to pick India’s Test squad for the South Africa series, and that only added more fuel to the fire. To those conjecturing on social media, it didn’t matter that Dhoni has stopped playing Test cricket five years ago. When the question was hurled at MSK Prasad, the chief selector, he said, “No update on Dhoni’s retirement, the news is incorrect.” But it did little to dissipate the frenzy. For everyone was wondering the same thing: Why did Kohli tweet that photo?
Sure enough, the question came up on the eve of India’s T20 series against South Africa. Kohli said he was surprised to see how such an innocuous tweet had snowballed into something so big.
“I think it’s a lesson for me, that the way I think, the whole world does not think that way. There was nothing in my imagination while putting that picture out on social media,” he explained, before adding: “Like what did I write. I remember that game even now…I never spoke about that game and so I thought I will put up a post. Now people interpreted it in a different manner in which there was not even an iota of truth.”
The Indian captain remained guarded on the question about Dhoni’s retirement and said it was the individual’s prerogative when he should hang his boots. Kohli, however, asserted that Dhoni remained an integral part of the team. “One great thing about him (Dhoni) is that, he thinks for Indian cricket. And whatever we (team management) think, he is on the same page. The alignment is there. The kind of mindset he has had about grooming youngsters and giving them opportunities, and he is still the same person,” Kohli explained.