Dubai: In a World Cup form is important and more critical is the fact that the timing of the form. Peaking early has some advantages and a few disadvantages come along with it. Winning with regularity is a healthy habit, but it will not expose such teams to the vagaries of the sport that could throw some surprises in the knockout stage. Teams like India, New Zealand and South Africa, barring an off day against the Netherlands, have largely been untested, easing past their rivals. That leaves these three table-toppers with many unanswered questions. Hosts India have maintained a clean slate, winning all their five matches as the showpiece hits the halfway mark. Will they be able to maintain their consistency all the way till the end and book their expected spot in the semifinals and win their third title? That's a big question.
Shocking fancied rivals
On the other side of the spectrum, minnows Afghanistan and Netherlands have been upsetting the plans of their fancied rivals. The Afghan team have been a revelation with victories over defending champions England and then against former champions Pakistan. The Afghans have shown the world that they have come of age and are no pushovers anymore.
Former Indian mental conditioning coach Paddy Upton, who was part of the World Cup-winning Indian team under skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni in 2011, talks about the pros and cons of such a long tournament, along with UAE opener Chirag Suri and Gulf News experts. What he feels about India’s chances and that of other top contenders like New Zealand and South Africa?
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