'To me, that was the last day I played cricket for India (even though) I announced my retirement one year later. But the fact was, that day I retired.'
A distraught Mahendra Singh Dhoni trudging back to the pavilion after being run out in the 2019 World Cup semi-final against New Zealand is one of the most tragic moments in Indian cricket history.
A little over four years since India lost that match by 18 runs and crashed out of the World Cup, Dhoni revealed it was at that moment his time in international cricket was over.
On that Manchester evening when Dhoni walked back to the pavilion after being run out by Martin Guptill, not many would have thought that it was his last game for India.
"It is difficult to control the emotions in a close game (especially) when you have lost," said ‘Captain Cool' at an event in Bengaluru recently.
"Inside, I am done with my planning. To me, that was the last day I played cricket for India (even though) I announced my retirement one year later. But the fact was, that day I retired,” he said.
"We are given those machines (for monitoring fitness) and every time I went to the trainer I gave it back to him but he would say, 'no, no, you keep it'. Now, how do I tell him that I do not need this anymore and I will not be needing it because I did not want to announce it (retirement) at that point of time," Dhoni added.
The 42-year-old said retiring from international cricket also took away the rare opportunity of representing the country again.
"Once you are high on emotion, you know the only thing you have done in the last 12 or 15 years is playing cricket and then there is no more a chance of representing your country.
"It is a very big thing. You have so many people but only a few get a chance to represent the country. Irrespective of which sport you play, when you go out to play you are representing your country.
"If you go to Commonwealth (Games) or Olympics or we go in ICC tournaments — we are representing our country and that is a very big thing. Once I quit cricket there was no way out for me to represent our country," Dhoni said.
India's most successful captain announced his international retirement in August 2020 but continues to have the fans thronging stadiums across the country in large numbers during the two months of the Indian Premier League.
Dhoni's craze filled up the stadiums to the brink this year in the IPL as he led Chennai Super Kings to a fifth title win after beating Gujarat Titans in the final at Ahmedabad while managing a knee injury.
He has promised to play one more IPL season as his way of expressing his gratitude for the love and support the fans have given him.