Mahendra Singh Dhoni not only stunned his fans around the world by bidding adieu to international cricket on the eve of August 15 but also surprised his former teammates. India leg-spinner Yuzvendra Chahal is also one of the them who is shocked to learn about the announcement from the legendary glovesman. Chahal believes the raging COVID-19 pandemic played a role in Dhoni’s decision to retire from international cricket. He believes former India captain would have represented India in the T20 World Cup 2020 in Australia had it not been postponed due to the dreaded disease.

Dhoni, the only captain to have won all the ICC trophies, retired from international cricket on Saturday, more than a year after he last played for India — the lost World Cup semifinal against New Zealand.

“Dhoni’s retirement was very shocking news. I think Corona also played a role in this decision, otherwise Dhoni would have played T20 World Cup,” Chahal said in News18 India’s special program Chaupal.

Chahal also said that Dhoni still has it in him to carry on playing international cricket. “I still want him to play,” said the 30-year-old from Haryana, who has represented India in 52 Tests and 42 ODIs.

“Because of him Kuldeep Yadav and I succeeded. We used to get a lot of help from him from behind the wicket. If Dhoni was there, 50 per cent of my work was already done.”

Chahal said Dhoni’s presence made it easier for them to decipher the pitch. “Dhoni knew how the pitch was behaving. Before the first ball, we knew what the pitch was like because of him. Otherwise, when Dhoni was not there, we would take two overs to understand the pitch,” he said.

“In the match, since Virat (Kohli) and Rohit (Sharma) were on the boundary, then Dhoni was the nearest senior, he would help us always. Dhoni also helped Kuldeep and I a lot during the tour of South Africa.”

Asked if Dhoni should get a farewell match, Chahal said: “This decision will be taken by the BCCI. Also, what Dhoni wants needs to be considered.”

Chahal also spoke about the healthy atmosphere in the team’s dressing room. He said everyone in the team used to have a lot of fun both on the field and off the field with Dhoni. “There is no such thing as senior-junior in the team,” he said.

Chahal said that during the lockdown, he also played PUBG. When asked with Dhoni will appear on ‘Chahal TV’, the leg-spinner cheekily replied that it’s easier to catch Don than Mahi for an interview.