There has been a lot of talk on how India should select the most in-form players for the upcoming T20 World Cup, irrespective of their reputation. The debate is getting pretty heated as to whether the form should be given preference over match-winning ability, especially of great players.
Team India have had many great batters going through a slump at times during the course of their legendary careers. Some fought their poor form to emerge victorious, while others continued to work hard in hopes of a final hurrah.
On that note, let's take a look at five such great batters who have had to endure a terrible dip in form in their respective careers:
#5 Ajinkya Rahane
India's Test team, in particular, was in transition mode when the likes of Rahul Dravid, VVS Laxman and Sachin Tendulkar retired in the period from 2011-13. India also lost eight consecutive Tests away from home, four each against England and Australia, at that time.
However, they found a technically sound batter in Ajinkya Rahane, who during India's 2013-15 SENA (South Africa, England, New Zealand and Australia) cycle, scored vital runs. He cemented his Test spot at No. 5 and also became Virat Kohli's deputy.
Inconsistency in white-ball cricket paved the way for Rahane to become a red-ball specialist. The highest point of his career so far will probably be the way he led the team in the absence of Kohli to complete a turnaround for the ages against Australia in the Border-Gavaskar Trophy in 2020-21.
However, post his Boxing Day Test hundred, Rahane's form took a turn for the worse. Apart from a fine half-century in the famous win against England at Lord's last year, Rahane couldn't make a big score of note. His downward spiral in form was so drastic that he was stripped of the vice-captaincy for the South Africa tour.
No crucial runs on that tour spelled the end of the long rope given to him. With the likes of Hanuma Vihari and Shreyas Iyer now first choices in the middle-order, Rahane will need to pile on runs in domestic cricket to make a fairytale comeback.
#4 Sourav Ganguly
India have achieved tremendous success away from home across formats under Virat Kohli's captaincy. However, it was Sourav Ganguly who first laid the foundation and believed that India could do well overseas.
The period from 2001-2004 was incredible as they became one of the best touring teams in the world. They won the series in West Indies, drew in England and held onto the Border Gavaskar Trophy Down Under.
India also reached the final of the 2003 World Cup and Ganguly continued to be one of their most important batters. However, things changed drastically once Greg Chappell was made India's coach.
Ganguly had a dip in form and his fallout with Chappell took its toll on his spot in the team. Chappell dropped Ganguly from the captaincy as well as from the team and the-then Indian captain had to prove his mettle by scoring runs in domestic cricket.
However, he made a comeback against all odds in India's first Test win on South African soil in 2006, scoring a crucial half-century. He gradually became a crucial part of India's middle-order in Tests and scored an incredible double-hundred against Pakistan in 2007.
#3 Yuvraj Singh
Yuvraj Singh was one of the biggest match-winners for India, especially in the period between the 2007 T20 World Cup and the 2011 ODI World Cup.
Yuvraj scored 362 runs and picked up 15 wickets in the 2011 showpiece event as the co-hosts ended a 28-year-long wait. Unfortunately he was diagnosed with cancer thereafter and had to take a break from the game to get cured.
He made his comeback in 2012, but it looked like he was just a shadow of himself. Yuvraj continued to get a bit of sympathy from fans and probably from the selectors too, but in the end, the performances were dipping alarmingly. It all seemed like the breaking point when he scored 11(21) in the 2014 T20 World Cup final, which probably cost his team the game.
He was in and out of the team, but Virat Kohli brought him back into the ODI setup and Yuvraj had a final flourish, scoring an incredible 150 against England in 2017. Although he didn't play in the 2015 and 2019 World Cups, Yuvraj Singh remains one of the modern-day legends.
#2 Rohit Sharma
Rohit Sharma has been a completely different player ever since he began opening the batting in the 2013 Champions Trophy. The swashbuckling right-hander broke multiple records, including the most number of hundreds (five) in a single edition of the World Cup in 2019.
One of the most dangerous players to ever play white-ball cricket, Sharma was at one point not even guaranteed a place in the Indian team. He was distraught after being left out of the 2011 World Cup squad.
The 35-year-old's performance in 2012 reached an all-time low as he scored just 164 runs in 13 ODIs. His infamous ODI series against Sri Lanka, where he scored just 13 runs from five games, looked like it was the end of the road for him.
However, Sharma had a strong resolve and fought his way back to become the captain of the Indian team across formats a decade later.
#1 Virat Kohli
There's no doubt that Virat Kohli, in his prime, was arguably one of the best batters the game had ever seen. Kohli had a similar story to Rohit Sharma, but in Test cricket.
There were doubts about his ability after a string of low scores back in 2011-12. But his Test hundred in Adelaide in 2014 settled all debates and he went on to become an all-time great for India across formats over the next few years.
He also shrugged off a horror tour of England in 2014 by scoring a couple of Test centuries on the same soil four years later.
However, the post-November 2019 period has been quite challenging for the 33-year-old. Kohli is no longer the Indian captain and questions have begun to arise about his place in the team.
Not having a century for almost three years is something no one saw coming. However, every ardent Indian fan would hope that there's one last spark left in him.