A short ball, rising much more than expected, Dhoni took the top hand off after having fended at it. The ball hadn't even reached the fielder at deep square leg. A single taken.
The fielder gets to the ball and scores a direct hit at the striker's end. Dhoni is not just run out, India is run out, an era of finishing games from nearly improbable situations in the blue jersey comes to an end. A scapegoat, a captain who outlived his tenure, a keeper-batsman who was doing just enough but could have retired sooner, was walking back to the hut, with his eyes watery.
More by the weight of his own expectations than that of the billion others. MS did not play a single game for India ever since that run out. In a few interviews, he reminded us of his human side, when he confessed that he should have dived. That was a confession, yes. How often can you recollect MS having to dive to get to his crease? Rare. Very rare.
What India will miss the most about Dhoni is not the batsman who was too restrained to play his shots but the awareness that MS developed over the years. His mantra of keeping his side in the game till as long as possible worked in his favour for a good part of his international career till it went all wrong in England.
Dhoni's had quite a ride playing in England. Like scoring that unbeaten 76 at Lord's which helped India get away with a draw with the help of rain. India went on to win that series 1-0, or the 2011 whitewash, where nothing worked for him, or 2013, when India defied the odds to win what is now India's last ICC trophy win. And then 2019, something we would have said was worse till 2020 happened.
Ever since that single was denied to Ambati Rayudu though, things haven't been the same for him, the batsman. Dhoni showed glimpses of his brutal best in yellow but come the blues; he felt those against bowlers he once decimated for fun.
A batsman who would take on the likes of Dale Steyn and Trent Boult was suddenly found wanting. He played his shots, took calculated risks to get his side close, but it was the safety-first approach that defined the latter half of his career.
Dwayne Bravo said as much when with two needed off the final ball during that crazy T20I where KL Rahul hit a ton, Bravo bowled a slower ball outside off and expected Dhoni to just look for the safest option, a couple to get his side to the win than looking for the big shot, the riskier option. That to everyone was the biggest difference between the man in yellow and blue.
The man in Yellow was almost independent of what was to follow while the one in Blue was always sceptical about what was to follow and stopped himself from going for the game.
Did India need him in the 2019 World Cup? Could they have won the tournament without him or that they groomed Pant in advance? Who knows. The team management showed the patience of Shahid Afridi batting in any format of the game, during their regime with some players. Too desperate for the right results without really giving the processes the right time to bear fruit.
India's middle-order muddle is, as of now, still unsolved as they have yet to find replacements for Dhoni and Yuvraj. And to think someone scored more than 10,000 runs speaks volumes about what MS Dhoni brought to the table.
To adapt your game to the situation is a rare skill and India was blessed to have Rahul Dravid and Greg Chappell spot two guys who could do the job. They backed them despite their failures here and there as they knew how the challenging the game was.
MS Dhoni and Yuvraj were the middle-order stalwarts of the ODI side in the late 2000s and early 2011. And now both are officially out of the setup, without no one groomed for that role.
"From 1929 hrs consider me as retired."
Yep, that's it, that's how quickly and promptly Dhoni announced his retirement on Instagram. Yes, on a social media platform, something he said that one would never associate with him in recent times. He posted a video which could not have been more typical of him.
He had images of every single vital moment of his playing career, including the burning down of his effigies during 2007 which changed him as a person. The video had every player, every special moment in India's cricketing history when he was involved. It showed how much he cared without really saying enough.
An international career that began with a run-out has ended with one. How poetically ironic for a man who has always been exceptional at both ends of the stumps only to have ended his career starting with a run-out at the striker's end and ending with one at the same end, having hit the ball in the very same area.
It's how Dhoni described losing a Test, "You die, you die, you don't see which one is the better way to die."
Dhoni never seemed like someone who wanted a farewell game, he retired from Tests during a series in Australia. It was always unlikely that he would ask for a game and attention.
MS left a ball during the semi-final against New Zealand in 2019 and is trolled for his no intent. But a leave in a knockout game does not define the legacy of MS Dhoni.
He was far more than a shot, the running between the wickets, the stumpings, the rare celebrations. Dhoni in blues will always remain the guy who made you feel comfortable no matter the status of the game.
Whenever there is a close game with the required rate shooting up, there will still be hope that it can be gunned down.
For all his trophies and match-winning knocks, it is this belief that one can win from any given position that will remain the biggest gift MS Dhoni has given to Indian cricket!
Thank you MS, thank you for spoiling us for the rest of our lives.
Feature image courtesy: AFP / Dibyangshu Sarkar