Quite a few cricket fans would have rubbed their eyes in disbelief when MS Dhoni walked out for the toss during India's final Super Four match of Asia Cup 2018 on Tuesday.
Dhoni had stepped down as captain of the limited-overs sides after the five-match home series against New Zealand in October 2016. Despite being among the leadership group of the team since then, the 37-year-old has never led the team even in the absence of regular captain Virat Kohli.
However, Dhoni was handed the baton after 696 days on Tuesday after stand-in skipper Rohit Sharma and vice-captain Shikhar Dhawan were rested for the dead-rubber ahead of the continental tournament final for which the team has already qualified.
More importantly, Dhoni, who had left ODI captaincy stranded on 199, had the opportunity to become only the third player to complete 200 ODIs as captain after Ricky Ponting (230) and Stephen Fleming (218).
Dhoni believes the guest appearance as captain wasn't in his control but believes it is part of destiny.
"I was not really sure about where I was standing. I have captained 199 ODIs, so this gives me an opportunity to make it 200. It's all destiny and I have always believed in that," Dhoni said.
It's not in my control, once I left captainship. Good to complete 200, but I don't think it really matters. If you have played that many matches, captained in 199 ODIs, this doesn't make any difference."
Dhoni hardly cares about numbers. The World Cup-winning former captain had come up with an unforeseen Test retirement call in 2014. He hung up his boots from the longest format of the game 10 short of the 100-Test landmark.
It is being perceived Dhoni had quit captaincy in order to get Kohli ready for the 2019 Cricket World Cup.
Nonetheless, the seasoned wicketkeeper-batsman has been guiding the youngsters, including the skipper so much so that his fans call him the unofficial captain of the side. Dhoni's inputs have certainly helped Kohli's team over the last two years.
Loud cheer greets Dhoni's milestone moment
Meanwhile, Dhoni, who was greeted to loud cheers as he walked out for the toss, insisted that there will be no let up in the team's intensity against Afghanistan despite the fact that India have qualified for the final, scheduled for Friday.
India made five changes to the side as Rohit, Dhawan, Yuzvendra Chahal and pacers Jasprit Bumrah and Bhuvneshwar Kumar were rested.
Chennai Super Kings pacer Deepak Chahar made his ODI debut, KL Rahul, Manish Pandey, Khaleel Ahmed, and Siddharth Kaul returned to the playing XI.
"Everybody who hadn't played in this tournament gets a chance. They are part of the 15 and are representing India. We'll have to keep the intensity up. It is important for them to adjust to the line and length they need to bowl," Dhoni added.