Four test playing nations. A former World Number One lost its way to experience one of the lowest points in the annals of their sporting history. In recent times, a supremely insurmountable side at home became more prone to defeats. A team famously regarded as the most volatile side to have taken the field endured isolation and wilderness in the Arabian deserts. A team deemed misfit started making significant strides that the world took note of. These are tumultuous yet exciting times for the test playing nations from the subcontinent.
One day, the leaves wither as they turn old. India and Sri Lanka are primarily experiencing this phase. There are more greens on their tree today. Pakistan is almost in a situation where the leaves are about to fall. The cricketing expiry for Misbah and Younus is much closer than what it was yesterday. Take the story of Shivnarine Chanderpaul, for example. The chances of comeback become slim for the veteran sportsmen moment the form slips away. As long as the fire in the lamp withstands the external pressure of the winds, these legendary players can continue writing more pages in their autobiographies.
India, now in the Sri Lankan shores, are all set to be challenged in conditions they are more familiar of. Ever since the dramatic 8-0 whitewashes in 2011-12, India showed mild signs of recovery. They have had to reshuffle the batting line up ever since the glorious trinity signed off along with the famous Delhi openers who seem to have lost their mojo. Fortunately, they have managed to construct another batting order which a lot of top ranked test countries can feel jealous about. But that’s about the best part of the segment that the team can feel proud of. As a unit, the losses at South Africa, New Zealand, England and Australia meant that the slide wasn’t arrested. With the one-off Bangladesh test abandoned due to rain, this Lankan tour is the beginning of a two year journey around the rivers and mountains of the sub-continent.
With a new leader and with the Board all set to soon announce the new coach, who would be the man to plot the route map for the future, India’s test resurgence is in tricky waters. The followers of the sport in the mad nation have had a long break since the IPL. Since IPL they have had to endure an ignominious one-day tour of Bangladesh. It has been the longest break for the team for a long time. Kohli has promised that he will play five bowlers thus thrusting more responsibility both on the top and the lower order batsmen. So far, Kohli’s approach as a leader has been all about making the moves to create a positive result. The aggressive attitude now goes a step further to embolden and empower the players with more trust and responsibility. It is time for his players to contribute with a very conscious mindset craving for consistency. With more matches scheduled in the sub-continent, the onus would be on the spinners to take lead with the attack.
On the other side of the border, Pakistan’s resurgence in test cricket has been nothing less than extraordinary. It is no easy task to defend at the adopted home as well as to beat the Lankans in their territory. Significantly, the batsmen contributed crucial runs for their bowlers to pick twenty wickets. After a relentless search for steady batsmen who build their game on temperament, Pakistan seem to have solved the puzzle. Ahmed Shehzad’s ability to convert starts into hundreds has provided a reasonable stability at the top of the order. Shan Masood, is still very young. But he showed enough gumption to convince about his ability and temperament. Asad Shafiq and Azhar Ali have been the biggest finds for Pakistan cricket in recent times. They have been the pillars around whom the game revolves. The best part about the two is that, they emerge from a different school of cricket where calmness and patience are considered as stepping stones for success. Shafiq and Ali have both tasted success and have good knowledge of what it takes to score hundreds in test matches. Between Shafiq and Ali, come the most experienced Pakistani pair of Younus Khan and Misbah Ul Haq. While they both don’t seem to come close to an end with their careers, Pakistan’s fresh approach in ODIs gives a good look into their batting resources when the legends call it a day. That Pakistan completed a rout in Sri Lanka, defeating the hosts in all formats of the game, shows that the team is experiencing a positive growth. After the final T20, there were great scenes of camaraderie and team bonding. Importantly, Pakistan have showed that they enough stomach for challenge and hunger for victory.
The inclusion of Sarfaraz Ahmed in the middle order is the single most powerful addition for their line-up. Teams are prone to produce inconsistent results if they carry a lot of flashy batsmen. Such batsmen will change the complexion of the game within a session or two. Since their approach can’t be tempered, it would be difficult to expect them play a fighting innings. Sarfaraz, amazingly, can play both roles. He has lent fire to the batting order that finally found solidity and method to their game.
While Pakistan need not worry about the fast bowler produce, Saeed Ajmal’s exit from the scene could have spelt dooms for any team. Yasir Shah’s emergence as an attacking leg spinner smoothened the transition. Yasir Shah provides Misbah with both control and strike force. When the batsmen succeed, Shah becomes a bigger prospect for Pakistan’s success. The way he bowled in Sri Lanka on not so friendly surfaces was a display of his stern character and his ability to play according to the conditions.
Pakistan’s biggest challenge, though, is yet to arrive. They have slowly begun to become a strong opponent in home conditions. But just like how the challenge was for India, or for that matter any other subcontinent team, Pakistan’s ability to survive and succeed will be tested on a bigger scale when they play in Australia, South Africa, England and New Zealand.
The latest victim of the Bangladesh assault were the South Africans. Not so long ago, Bangladesh gave both India and Pakistan a rude lesson that told the world that they have finally arrived. While Bangladesh’s resurgence has mostly been in the ODIs, they made some impression when they bowled out South Africa for under 250 and took an important lead in the first test at Dhaka. The promise that Bangladesh have shown in the past six months only makes us believe that the team has matured heads who are ready to act responsibly for team’s success now. At the helm of affairs is Hathurusinghe, who is carving a legacy of his own with this resurgence. The coach has gone the long yards to make his team believe that they definitely can. The likes of Tamim Iqbal, Imrul Kayes, Mahmudullah, Shakib Al Hasan, Mushfiqur Rahim and Mashrafe Mortaza have absorbed enough quality of international cricket, that they can be the torch bearers for Bangladesh cricket now. These players have shown immense maturity in taking ownership on the field and guiding the younger ones in the best way possible.
Considering the following that Bangladesh have in their backyard, it was going to be impossible for them to never improve. All this while, the stars who are torch bearers today were seeking inspiration to grow bigger. Their heroes never made it big. They got back home defeated again and again.
With Australia touring Bangladesh next, there wouldn’t be a better measure of their progress than testing it against Australia’s Gold Standard.
Sri Lanka have a problem aplenty. It is a mixed scenario that each of India and Pakistan have experienced for a long time. Under Angelo Mathews, this Lankan team is taking baby steps with their resurgence. The best aspect of this resurgence has been the performance of their fast bowlers. The tank is full with quality that Mathews can afford to prepare fast and seaming tracks for their bowlers to achieve desired results. Dhammika Prasad has come of age. Nuwan Pradeep, Suranga Lakmal and Dushmantha Chameera have had their moments. Twenty three year old Chameera, especially, has come for a lot of praise. Along with the captain himself, Sri Lanka’s pace attack are in good shape for the present and for the immediate future.
But their real concerns come with their batsmen. Jayawardane is gone. Dilshan is gone. So will Sangakkara by the end of this month. While the batting has shown odd sparks with Kaushal Silva and Dimuth Karunaratne, Angelo Mathews continues to be the lynch pin in this batting order. The replacements and the next-in-line are the players who have been there with the team earlier. Jehan Mubarak’s and Upul Tharanga’s selections gives away the fact that the older men who were discarded before, continue to be the best of the lot to play test cricket. Sangakkara’s fear in the loss of quality in the first class cricket, is well placed. If the structure can’t produce new talents then there is something wrong that needs to be fixed at the earliest.
The Lankans trust Chandimal and Thirimanne a lot. While they have been impressive in shorter formats, both players need to raise their hands up now to shoulder responsibility. The series against India, is hence going to be very crucial for these two players. If both of them fail to make any mark, the middle order will be in tatters.
Sony MEA Intros Three New High-Performance G Lenses
Sony has announced three outstanding G Lenses to its impressive E-mount line-up – the FE 50mm F2.5 G (model SEL50F25G), FE 40mm F2.5 G (model SEL40F25G), and FE 24mm F2.8 G (model SEL24F28G). All three lenses deliver the high image quality and beautiful bokeh in a lightweight and compact design, perfect for photographers and videographers alike who strive for standout shots and easy mobility.
When paired with a Sony full-frame camera or APS-C, all three lenses boast high resolution, intuitive operability and fast, precise and quiet autofocus capabilities. The lenses have been introduced as the perfect set for photo and video for a wide range of uses including snap shooting, portraiture and landscape shots.
“At Sony we are constantly innovating to produce the tools that creators need to capture the beauty of this world” said Murat Gebeceli, Head of Digital Imaging, Sony Middle East & Africa. “With superb resolution and mesmerising bokeh, all housed in a compact and sophisticated design, the FE 50mm F2.5 G, FE 40mm F2.5 G and FE 24mm F2.8 G enable users to experience the joy of owning lenses that capture different perspectives of the same scene”. These three prime lenses each deliver a focal length for any shoot with the 50mm best for portraits, the 40mm optimal for still or movie snap shooting, and the 24mm ideal for landscapes. With their intuitive operability and superb build quality they are a fantastic set of three.
What’s more, the three lenses are of the same size (68mm diameter x 45mm), have the same filter diameter (49mm) and are almost the same weight (FE 50mm F2.5 G 174g, FE 40mm F2.5 G 173g and FE 24mm F2.8 G 162g) and internal focus so lens interchange is easy – even when using a gimbal. They feature the same stylish exterior design, but focal lengths are clearly marked for quick switches.
The FE 50mm F2.5 G, FE 40mm F2.5 G, and FE 24mm F2.8 G deliver the high image quality of a G Lens, whilst being compact and lightweight. The image quality is achieved by state-of-the-art optics using aspherical elements and ED (Extra-low Dispersion) glass elements, delivering high resolution and suppressing colour fringing. The aspherical elements ensure high-resolution performance in every corner of the image, even from the widest aperture with shallow depth of field. Enjoy shooting in high resolution using a compact design.
The stunning bokeh of the G lens is achieved with the optimisation of a circular aperture and is delivered at the widest point of each lens (FE 50mm F2.5 G F2.5 at 50mm, FE 40mm F2.5 G F2.5 at 40mm, and the FE 24mm F2.8 G F2.8 at 24mm). All three lenses were carefully designed for optimum mobility and are compact and lightweight enough to suit any location. Whether shooting with a full-frame or APS-C body for portraiture, landscape, snapshots or movies with a gimbal and more, the size and weight are balanced perfectly. Experience the benefits of interchanging lenses to suit any scene or subject.
As well as the 50mm angle of view is perfect for portraits and snap shooting stills or movies, the FE 50mm F2.5 G has a minimum focus distance of 0.35m (AF) / 0.31m (MF) and a maximum magnification of 0.18x (AF) / 0.21x (MF), meaning it’s ideal for a variety of scenes and objects. The FE 40mm F2.5 G 40mm angle of view is ideal for snap shooting stills or movies with a minimum focus distance of 0.28m (AF) / 0.25m (MF) and a maximum magnification of 0.20x (AF) / 0.23x (MF). Particularly for movie shooting, 40mm is the preferred angle of view as it corresponds to the natural field of vision and for stills, 40mm allows subjects to stand out against backgrounds.
With a wide 24mm angle of view, the FE 24mm F2.8 G lens is perfect in situations where the background is included, such as gimbal or selfie shooting with a grip attached. And with a minimum focus distance of 0.24m (AF) / 0.18m (MF) and maximum magnification of 0.13x (AF) / 0.19x (MF), you can also shoot close-ups with a blurred background.
Despite their compact size, the lenses feature a focus hold button, focus mode switch, aperture ring, and Aperture click switch for ideal operability. The focus hold button is customisable from the camera menu and can be assigned a function that the user prefers. The aperture ring provides a more intuitive and direct feel, compared to operating the aperture from the camera body when shooting either stills or movies.
The aperture also provides switchable click stops that can be turned off for movie shooting using the aperture click switch. Furthermore, with Linear Response MF, the focus ring responds precisely and linearly when focusing manually so control feels immediate and intuitive, directly reflecting the intent of the photographer and allowing delicate focus adjustments.
The aluminium exterior and engraved Sony logo ensure a premium, sophisticated finish as well as increased strength and durability. Conveniently, the diameter of the filter threads on the hood and the lens barrel are equal (49mm), allowing the same cap and filter to be attached to both the hood and the lens barrel. The lenses are also designed to be dust and moisture resistant to ensure usability in any outdoor environment.
The FE 50mm F2.5 G, FE 40mm F2.5 G, and FE 24mm F2.8 G feature two linear motors to deliver fast, precise autofocus (AF) with excellent tracking performance which is maintained despite instantaneous changes in subject motion – making the lens ideal snapping moving subjects. The AF is also quiet, so works for both still and movie shooting.
The FE 50mm F2.5 G, FE 40mm F2.5 G, and FE 24mm F2.8 G will be available in selected countries in the Asia Pacific from April 2021.
Review: ASUS ROG Flow X13 (GV301)
The new ASUS ROG Flow X13 is the company’s ultra-slim gaming laptop that measures just 15.8mm thin and weighs just 1.3-kgs.
As soon as we took it out of its packaging, we were quite surprised at how thin the laptop was. This 13-inch gaming laptop comes with a 360-degree hinge, which ASUS calls Ergolift.
This hinge lets you use the laptop in multiple form factors to fit your needs. You can use it in the clamshell mode for the usual laptop usage. You can also flip the screen all the way to the back to use it as a tablet. In addition, you can even switch it to tent or stand modes to increase cooling that according to ASUS, lowers processor temperatures by up to 8°C.
And the Flow X13 looks pretty! You get textured lines across its surface for added grip for easy carrying. We also liked the fact that it has the metallic ROG badge on it, which makes it even cooler to look at. The ROG Flow X13 also supports the ROG XG Mobile external GPU, which is sold separately.
In terms of connectivity, you get plenty. On the left edge, you get a ROG XG Mobile interface, one HDMI 2.0b port, the 3.5mm audio combo jack, the activity LED and the power LED. On the right edge, you get one USB 3.2 Gen 2 Type-A port, two USB 3.2 Gen 2 Type-C ports which come with DisplayPort 1.4 + PD support, and the power button, which also doubles-up as a fingerprint reader.
Around the edges of the Flow X13, you will find plenty of cooling vents to keep the device cool, even during your intense gaming sessions. The laptop also comes with two Speakers and a Smart Amp, with support for Hi-Res Audio and Dolby Atmos. In terms of battery, you get the 62Whr variety and ASUS bundles a smaller power adapter rated at 100W. The charger uses the USB-C connector to charge up the device.
As soon as you open the top lid of the laptop, you come face to face with a 13.4-inches UHD touch display that offers an aspect ratio of 16:10. The screen offers a refresh rate of 60Hz, is Pantone validated, and comes packed into 4.9mm slim side bezels. For extra protection from drops or scratches, the display is equipped with Corning Gorilla Glass. You also get a webcam on top of the display that offers a resolution of 720P.
Everything displayed on the Flow X13’s screen looked awesome. You also get the ASUS Pen inside the box, which is bundled along with the Flow X13. Since the display is protected with Gorilla Glass, you don’t have to worry about scratches when you tap, swipe, and scribble on it. The ASUS Pen offers a smooth stylus action whether you’re sketching, writing, or just jotting down on the screen.
Under the hood, the ROG Flow X13 is powered by AMD Ryzen 9 5900HS processor with Radeon Graphics, running at a clock speed of 3.30GHz. You also get 16GB of LPDDR4X 4266MHz Dual Channel RAM, and 1TB of M.2 2230 PCIe SSD storage. The laptop is also equipped with Wi-Fi 6 (802.11ax) and Bluetooth v5.2 wireless connectivity.
The 15-inch keyboard on this 13-inch laptop comes with curved keys that make typing on it a breeze. The keys offer a 1.7mm travel distance that allows for effortless keystrokes. The keyboard also comes with a white backlit that offers better visibility of the keys under low-light conditions.
The performance offered by the ASUS ROG Flow X13 is top-notch, especially for a gaming laptop this thin and light. The AMD Ryzen 9 5900HS processor, coupled with 16GB of RAM, lets you run graphics-hungry applications with ease. Even CPU-intensive workloads such as video editing and 3D rendering become effortless.
For a price of AED 6999, the ASUS ROG Flow X13 seems like a very good deal, considering the form factor it is available in. It is thin, light and is also a gaming laptop. It also comes packed with an outstanding specs sheet, which offers brilliant overall performance. If you are a road warrior who is heavily into content creation or hardcore gaming on the go, the ASUS ROG Flow X13 won’t disappoint.
Price: AED 6999
Photography by Ranbir Sen
Nubia Launches the RedMagic 6 Series Tencent Edition Gaming Smartphone
Developed together with Tencent Games, RedMagic announced the latest iteration of its mobile gaming flagship line, the Tencent edition of RedMagic 6 and 6 Pro devices.
Featuring an ultra-smooth 165Hz refresh rate gaming display, a unique active cooling system and cutting-edge mobile gaming performance, the Tencent RedMagic 6 Series aims to bring a new level of performance to mobile gaming. The company also unveiled the first ever wearable product from RedMagic, the RedMagic Watch as well as other gaming accessories.
A Revolutionary Screen Brings an Unprecedented Display Experience
The Tencent RedMagic 6 and 6 Pro adopts the industry’s highest refresh rate AMOLED screen at 165Hz, which refreshes with 21 more frames a second than the 144Hz panels. It reduces the lag and makes visuals even smoother, creating the industry’s smoothest and most stable screen display. The Tencent RedMagic 6 Series also supports Touch Choreographer, an intelligently adaptive technology that selects the most accurate refresh rate between 60Hz/90Hz/120Hz/165Hz based on your activity, resulting in a more comfortable visual experience, and saving battery power. Users can also manually lock the screen refresh based on their own preferences and activity, such as when playing games.
The Tencent RedMagic 6 and RedMagic 6 Pro also features the industry’s highest touch sampling rate – with a single finger touch sampling rate of up to 500Hz and a multi-finger touch sampling rate of up to 360Hz. The response time is as low as 8ms, which makes the device extremely responsive, enabling players to hit and play faster and more accurately.
To ensure these truly incredible display speeds do not impact battery life, NUBIA has implemented a mobile device CPHY-DSI Technology for the first time in the industry, increasing the transmission rate for high quality images by twice as much as before and uses 20-50% less power.
The display of RedMagic 6 Series Tencent Edition is also perfect for all kinds of entertainment. The visual experience is supreme. The 6.8” FHD+ AMOLED display also has a screen ratio of 20:9, a resolution of 2400*1080, and a screen-to-body ratio of 91.28%. The color performance is excellent with the stunning depth of color of 10bit and full DCI-P3. The peak brightness is 630 nits, and the contrast ratio is as high as 1000000:1. Every detail is vivid and sharp even in sunlight. This display is also certificated by SGS for eye care, low smear, and high refresh rate. The 6th generation fingerprint sensor sits under the display and unlocks 50% faster compared to the last generation. Press, unlock, and play quickly and smoothly.
Upgraded to ICE 6.0 Cooling System Ensures Top Core Performance
Tencent RedMagic 6 series uses the new ICE 6.0 Multi-dimensional Cooling System with a built-in turbofan. The built-in high-speed centrifugal turbofan can reach up to an astounding 20,000 rpm and the canyon air duct design for airflow increases the air heat transfer coefficient by 500%. There’s also a large copper foil, covering the battery, while a vapor chamber (the world’s thinnest at 0.33mm) sits behind the motherboard, connected by thermal paste. Even the intense graphically demanding games run smooth and cold on Tencent RedMagic 6 Series.
The back of the RedMagic 6 Pro adopts an aero-grade heat dissipation ice blade design. The material selected is a high thermal conductivity aviation aluminum alloy material with a thermal conductivity of 200W/(mK). It greatly enhances the heat dissipation and thermal conductivity of the back cover, and can reduce the tactile temperature of the fuselage surface by 3-5 degrees on average.
Go a step further and complete the ultimate cooling solution with the new Dual-core Ice Dock. As the name implies, it is a dual system with dual fans and dual semiconductors for improved cooling. Not only does it keep the phone cool, but it looks cool too with its RGB lights and wing-shaped design, it’s a no-holds-bar cooling machine. Pair up with Bluetooth to control the fan and lights to fit your style and cooling needs.
Top Spec Supports Elite Gaming Adventure
The Tencent RedMagic 6 and Tencent RedMagic 6 Pro are empowered by Qualcomm Snapdragon 888. The CPU part uses the latest Kryo 685 architecture and adds a new Cortex-X1 super large core and can clock up to 2.84GHz, increasing the CPU performance of Qualcomm Snapdragon 888 by 25%.
The Tencent RedMagic 6 Series is equipped with LPDDR5 RAM and UFS 3.1 Storage. Faster application retrieval and caching speed, even if multiple apps are opened in the background, the phone can still run smoothly, without worrying about running into memory performance limitations.
RedMagic gaming phone 6 Pro is also equipped with a new UFS3.1 flagship flash memory, supporting HS-G4 specifications, and has a single-channel bandwidth of 11.6Gbps, which is twice the performance of UFS 2.1.
In terms of network, the Qualcomm Snapdragon 888 5G mobile platform integrates a complete 5G solution from Qualcomm’s third-generation 5G modem to the antenna-Snapdragon X60 5G modem and radio frequency system. It has stronger performance, wider coverage and higher speeds.
The 5G solution uses dual-mode SA and NSA, supports n1/n3/n41/n77/n78 and other network frequency bands, allowing you to experience high-speed mobile communication anytime, anywhere.
RedMagic OS 4.0, Intelligent Software Optimization for a Fluid Experience
The Tencent RedMagic 6 Series edition adopts a deeply customized software system based on the Android 11 version and has carried out more than 100 in-depth game adaptations and optimizations to create the RedMagic OS 4.0. Based on the deep optimization of the software and hardware of the game’s bottom layer, Tencent RedMagic 6 series also cooperates with Tencent Games, using the SolarCore 3.1 gaming engine, bringing a better gaming experience.
RedMagic OS 4.0 can learn user habits and preloads frequently used applications in advance to achieve the effect of faster use. The intelligent scheduling of CPU, GPU and memory can quickly respond when performance is required, shortening loading times such as booting, application startup, game loading, and touch screen response; in addition, the rendering system can trigger related resources for scenes with different refresh rates to ensure a stable frame rate for high-refresh scenes, and intelligent power saving for low-refresh scenes.
RAM Boost memory compression technology, expands virtual memory, so that 12G memory is used like 18G memory. The more memory, the faster the system responses and the smoother the game.
Magic Write 2.0 is a fast read-write optimization patented technology developed exclusively by RedMagic. Through the intelligent classification of file content and characteristics, it can realize the systematic optimization of disk write synchronization and asynchronous mixed dispatch, taking into account asynchronous concurrency and serial writing. The long-lasting performance improvement brings faster, more stable and safer disk read and write performance. In addition to increasing the writing speed of small files by up to 10 times as fast, it also optimizes file reading and writing for Tencent applications such as WeChat and QQ, increasing the reading and writing speed by 50% and accelerating reading and writing.
RedMagic OS 4.0 also improves the Touch Choreographer feature which can make the frame rate more stable by up to 50% to always get the smoothest experience without worrying about screen tearing or battery life.
Through the all-around performance optimizations and upgrades of Red Magic OS 4.0, the game performance and user experience of RedMagic phones have been maximized. The RedMagic 6 Series Tencent edition is also empowered by Tencent’s Solar Core game engine, which solves the three major pain points of competitive mobile game response speed, frame rate stability, and network latency.
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