Pakistan cricket fans
Pakistan cricket fans react during the World Cup group stage match against England at Trent Bridge in Nottingham, central England, on June 3, 2019. Image Credit: AFP

Dubai: The group stages are over. And now, we are entering the knockout phase of the long tournament.

We will look at the turning points of some of the teams that have ended their campaign, while the few others who have made the last-four grade.

The biggest disappointment one was, of course, the exit of Pakistan.

A lot was said about their current campaign going on similar lines to that of their 1992 World Cup winning success story. The Sarfaraz Ahmad-led team lived up to the expectations to come on par with New Zealand on points tally, but they were relegated to the fifth spot on the net run rate and were forced out of the running.

A gallant show ended on a sour note indeed for Pakistan. In my view, I could identify two main reasons for their early exit. The most important is their dismal show against West Indies in their opener — a bad start leading to a sorry finish.

The other cause being their wrong team selection. Haris Sohail and Shaheen Shah Afridi did not become a regular member of Pakistan playing XI until the middle of their campaign.

What a change their inclusion have brought to the team!

Pakistan team management need to shoulder the blame for bad planning as they had played a five-match series against England before the start of the World Cup and they could have tried to get their team composition right.

Truly a missed opportunity!

Bangladesh failed once again at crucial juncture to lose their way en route to the semi-finals. One had to feel for Shakib Al Hassan, who was let down by his teammates, big time.

The all-rounder was in such imperious form that he was scoring at will while being consistent throughout the tournament.

If other batsmen had batted around him then it would have been easier to shore up the team. But they did not do it consistently enough, though the squad possessed veterans like Tamim Iqbal, Mushfiqur Rahim and Mahmadullah.

Bangladesh started on a promising note, defeating South Africa in their opener, but failed to sustain the momentum towards the final stages.

Sri Lanka and South Africa’s batting came good in their last match.

While the South Africans had a consolation win after stunning the defending champions Australia, the Islanders did not set a target that was enough to contain the rampaging Indian side, who won by seven wickets to finish on top of the league table.

Lasith Malinga, Imran Tahir, JP Duminy and Shoaib Malek deserve a round of applause after the true servants of the game hung up their boots at the end of the showpiece.

While India and Australia finished in the top two slots respectively in the points tally, they have a few issues to contend with.

The Men in Blue once again played with just five bowlers and though on one end shows the confidence they enjoy from skipper Virat Kohli, it is too risky not to have a fall-back option.

Australia have showed a big chink in their armoury as the defending champions once again faltered in their chase, the previous occasion being the clash against India when they had to chase a target of over 300.

So the toss is going to prove crucial for Australia.