Mahendra Singh Dhoni left open the possibility of playing in the 2019 World Cup in England, after India was beaten by Australia by 95 runs in the semi-final in Sydney on Thursday, saying he will take a call after the Twenty20 World Cup next year.
India’s ODI and T20 captain, who retired from Test cricket late last year, said he is 33 and will wait till the T20 World Cup, to be held in India, next March.
The wicketkeeper-batsman's future has been a subject of speculation after his Test retirement as he had spoken of the toll his body has taken by playing non-stop cricket.
"I am 33, I'm still running and I am still fit. Next year (at the World T20) will be the right time to decide if I should play World Cup 2019," Dhoni said in the post-match presentation.
Rated among the best finishers in ODI cricket for pulling off difficult run chases, Dhoni is India's most successful skipper, having led the side to two World Cup titles, the 2007 World T20 and the 2011 ODI World Cup.
Asked about his future, with a grin, he replied: "You guys should carry out a research and then write the complete opposite because that would be the truth. I play for the enjoyment of the game and the day I decide to go I will pack my bags and happily go away."
Dhoni, who has played 262 ODIs, scoring 8299 runs at an impressive average of 52.46, gave ample indication that he is not ready to call it quits from the shorter formats of the game any time soon, when he said the media can continue speculating about his possible swansong from international cricket.
The first question at his media conference after Thursday’s semi-final defeat was on his thoughts on international retirement.
"Well, I was expecting this question but didn’t expect that it would be first question. It's up to you guys. The media should do a nice research on it, take a few days, and my advice will be whatever you decide, write the complete opposite and that will be the fact," Dhoni said, evoking laughter among scribes in the media room.
The same question was asked more directly; whether there is a possibility of him suddenly calling it quits on Friday, just like he decided to stun the cricketing community with his sudden retirement from Test cricket.
“No, I won’t announce it tomorrow. We will be travelling. Main itna buddha laagta hoon kya (Do I look that old?) I told you guys, decide and then write the opposite," he said tongue-in-cheek.
On a serious note, he was asked about his legacy in ODI cricket and there was a dismissive tone in his straightforward reply.
"For me, every time I turn up, what’s important is to do something special so that I can be part of or I can contribute to the win. Apart from that, what people think about me as a player or what I have done, it doesn’t really matter because I play for the enjoyment of the game, and I don’t really have to do anything with the amount of runs I have scored. The day I pack my bags, I will pack it, and I’ll be happy on my bike."
There was a question on the team’s support staff and Dhoni was all praise, calling them a "family".
Then he also spoke about the team's media manager, Dr R N Baba, who hasn’t topped the popularity charts among the Indian media contingent.
"Dr. Baba is quite strict over here, but with us inside it’s quite friendly. (Laughter) I keep telling him, if the media is happy with you, then you are not a good media manager. But that’s the kind of thing that really helps you.
“It’s a very long tour, over four months at one place; another 20 days and we can apply for citizenship," Dhoni declared, as Baba had a sheepish grin on his face.
Image: Mahendra Singh Dhoni walks back after his dismissal in the World Cup semi-final against Australia at the SCG on Thursday.
Photograph: Ryan Pierse/Getty Images