Plants vs. Zombies 2 is a tower defence game that is one of my mobile gaming apps. The goal of the game is to place plants on your lawn to prevent Zombies from getting to the other side and eating your brains. There are currently five different worlds, each with different types of Zombies and Plants.
Another reason this app is so good is that it provides an excellent “play without paying” experience. Unlike other games where you can only enjoy a severely restricted portion without paying, PvZ 2 lets you enjoy the entire game for free. The only things you pay for are extra plant types, upgrades, gems, and coins. However, you do not need to buy any of these in order to complete the game. The only thing you need to be able to complete Plants vs. Zombies 2 is a smartphone, internet access (to download the app), and a thirst for strategy and fun.
I’m not going to give you too many details on the specifics of the game itself. Those things are more enjoyable if you find out yourself while playing, and begin to know the game as a hardened sailor knows the seas. However, I will write some strategy posts for the game in addition to my cricket posts. Hope you enjoy! The app is available both on the Apple App Store and the Android Play Store.
More than just the statistical advantage, cricketers are always looking to gain a psychological advantage wherever possible (image from cricketmademecrazy.blogspot.kr)
A cricket match is seen, in essence, as a duel between two sides with the bat and ball. While that is the textbook definition of what’s going on, there is often another duel that takes place on the cricket pitch. The battle of minds. This battle is, as I like to put it, “the match beyond the cricket.” It is not something that can be shown in numbers, but can be felt in the atmosphere of the match. When the bowler fires in an attacking short ball and gives you a death stare, or when the keeper is taunting your batting average, you’ve got psychological war going on.
This battle is of such importance not because of any value it has to the statistical aspect of the game (the ump isn’t gonna give you five runs for bullying the keeper) but because it can affect the rhythm of a player, and lead to profound consequences.
This is why it is so important for players to play for the psychological absence as well as the statistical one. Batsmen need to make sure the bowler never gains the format foot over them, and vice versa. This is why I feel that (in limited overs cricket) the first 3 balls of an over are the equivalent of the center of the board in chess. The one who makes the most of those three balls puts himself in a great position to gain a psychological advantage over his opponent. For example, if a batsman smashes 3 boundaries in the first 3 balls, he leaves the bowler a little uncomfortable: why aren’t his methods working? He then is forced to try something new, often beyond his comfort zone, to try and dislodge the batsman. In other words, he’s left playing “catch up”.
At this stage, the batsman can relax a bit more, and simply take what can be taken. Even if it’s three singles, the damage has been done. What also happens is that the bowler has a higher tendency to make errors, which can cost him runs. Same thing applies the other way around as well. If the bowler bowls three good deliveries that the batsman is unable to play, he may resort to something beyond his comfort zone, most commonly the exotic reverse sweep, which would lead to his wicket falling (which in most cases is more severe than leaking runs).
However, beyond this we must also consider the fundamental reason a player ventures outside his comfort zone to try and regain a lost advantage: pressure. All players feel pressure, especially when they’re up against the wall, trying to hold together a delicate situation. True, it is this pressure is often what brings the best out of players, and makes cricket that much more exciting. However, it can also do terrible things to players. It can turn absolute gentlemen into cussing ruffians. It can get a batsman bowled attempting a paddle scoop of a delivery he would have thwacked straight down for six another day. It can make a bowler bowl wide full tosses even if he’d got his yorker right 60 times in a row the night before. It can even make fielders drop catches they would have held on to single-handedly another day. In short, pressure can bring out the demons of any player, and is in short, the “atom bomb” of this psychological war. If a player succumbs to pressure and loses his nerve, he will be crushed by the boulder of the game and it’s demands. Luckily, the more experienced cricketers usually never go that low, as the power of personal experience keeps them resilient. However, for younger players, with little experience and high expectations for themselves, this pressure can be like a death blow. How often have we seen young batsmen fall playing rash shots when the going got tough? How often have we seen young bowlers completely fall apart to assaults from batsmen? Again, it just goes to show that cricket is as much a mind game as it is a physical one.
The IPL Auctions are coming soon, and franchises have already started retaining players for the upcoming league. To help you test yourself on how much you know about the auctions over the years, I’ve prepared this 10-question test. I had made a 5-question quiz as well, but I hadn’t really intended to publish that. So take this test, and see how much you know. Most of the questions are slightly twisted, but if you know your stuff, it shouldn’t be too bad. Good luck! 🙂
Howzit guys, I was looking through the views feed on my admin page, and found that the posts I did with cricket attax pics sometime in 2011 were still getting a fair number of views. Hence, I decided that it would be well worth my time to post some more cricket attax pics, with my commentary on them. So while digging through some of my old stuff, I found these “treasures” that I’ve had for at least two years now. Forgive me for being rather behind time with my cards, since I’ve not purchased any since my last trip to India in December 2012. I’ll do my best to get some 2013 cards to post soon 🙂 So here are some of my more prized cards. Follow along with the slideshow, and the captions represent which card my commentary is about. Hope you enjoy 🙂
This is my Brendon McCullum Gold. He’s from 2011, and was one of the more rare gold cards around. With a batting of 93, Brendon McC was the strongest wicket-keeper of the 2011 set, and one of the cards I had to really look around to find.
This is my Ravichandran Ashwin Gold. He’s also is from 2011, and although not the rarest card around, he was still a useful one to have around, with a bowling of 92 an batting of 40. He was one of the last golds I got in the 2011 set 🙂
This is my Praveen Kumar Gold. He’s my only gold card from 2012. Although this one was not nearly as valuable as the PK gold from 2011, his bowling score of 87 makes him a fairly helpful card to start your set with.
This is my Sreenath Aravind normal card. He’s from the 2012 set, and my most valuable normal card. One of the many young prodigies who rose in 2011, Aravind’s brilliant show brought him a bowling score of 88, along with an over-rated batting score of 53. Despite the fact that the real Aravind ended up having match economy rates that went up to 17.25, his card is still a very good one to have, particularly since he doesn’t count against your gold/silver count.
This is my Jacques Kallis Silver. He too is from the 2012 set. Although the 2011 one is definitely better, a batting of 84 and a bowling of 71 coupled with 35 runs makes Kallis one of the more valuable silvers, even for 2012.
This is my Iqbal Abdulla Silver. He’s been given the title of “Rising Star Player” because the real Iqqi won the actual award in the 2011 IPL, thwarting other candidates such as Paul Valthaty and Sreenath Aravind. This card is my best bowling card from 2012, with a score of 91. I’m not exactly sure how rare or otherwise this card was, but is still a very powerful one to have nonetheless.
This is my Murali Vijay Gold. He is from the 2011 set. His batting score of 97 made him the fourth-best batsman of the 2011 set, behind only Jacques Kallis gold, Sachin Tendulkar Orange Cap, and Sachin Tendulkar Player of the Tournament. I managed to get him in an extraordinary deal, and he’s one of my best cards.
Last but by no means not least, we have Virender Sehwag normal. He’s from the 2012 set, and one of the few cards who had almost the same score as he did in the previous year. However, with a score of 88 and 35 runs, he is still a devastating card. This could also be said to be one of my tributes to Viru, and one of the many memento of his ruthless run of fine form during the 2011 season.
I hope you’re doing well. Well, the IPL has been going in full flurry, with some scintillating knocks and nervy bowling that takes teams across the line. I find that IPL really is a good platform for the youth of India to make their mark, and play under some of the greatest players ever, Indian and overseas alike. Many people have criticized the IPL saying that it ‘undermines their sides’ and stuff like that. However, saying IPL is the reason your players are suffering in international cricket is like saying that the reason for you’re son’s failure in school is the fact that you send him for tutoring. Yes, there is the injury factor, but there is so much other exposure that the players receive. Like if your players are struggling on Indian soil, who better to learn from than the Indian players themselves? Like I said before, playing IPL gives you first-hand relationship with people like Sachin Tendulkar, Rahul Dravid, and MS Dhoni, who know Indian tracks like the back of their hand, or people like Adam Gilchrist, Ricky Ponting, and Kumar Sangakkara who have had so much exposure to Indian tracks, and can provide you with new insights on how to put your strengths to maximum effect. Also, you get loads of cash. For example, you can get about $700,000 if you’re a good all-rounder in form, while the South African cricket team won $450,000 for being the number one test team. That’s the other bonus. Amazing isn’t it?
The Deccan Chargers had one hell of a season last year. Everything from their team’s decisions down to their fielding was terrible. They knew that Ishant Sharma would not play IPL 5. Still, they traded Praghyan Ojha to MI, and spent their auction buying batsmen like Parthiv Patel and Darren Bravo when they should have picked up players like James Anderson and Vernon Philander. So not unexpectedly, they ended up having to put faith in their domestic bowlers, and these players were taken apart. Also, during the time period where Steyn was out with injury, the Chargers suffered some of their worst defeats. That was just their bowling. Their batting was very unpredictable, with only Shikhar Dhawan and Cameron White firing consistently. Other than that, their fielding was terrible. So the DC fans – who (unlike the poor Kochi fans) still get to see a Hyderabad franchise – will want the Sunrisers to do something to consolidate for the Chargers’ poor show. I think that they will get what they are wishing for, and even if SRH doesn’t win the IPL, they will definitely do better than DC did. With new players like Darren Sammy, Nathan McCullum, Quinton de Kock, and Thisara Perera in their ranks, SRH look a really strong side. Ishant, who is back to fitness, will pair with Steyn to form the spearhead of SRH’s attack. Parthiv Patel should team up with de Kock to open the innings, and spots 3 and 4 will be taken by Sanga and White. The middle order will be filled by Bharat Chipli, Abhisheik Jhunjhunwala, and Ashish Reddy. Amit Mishra and Ankit Sharma can work together to spin the ball. The only players missing from SRH now are Shikhar Dhawan, who is recovering from an injury he sustained against Australia in a test, and JP Duminy, who is still recovering from an injury he picked up when his side was (ironically) touring Australia. Though Shikhar will play after about 2 weeks, Duminy will not play the entire season. I don’t know why SRH bothered to retain Duminy, as next year is team reformation year anyway.
SRH POTENTIAL XI
Quinton de Kock (wk)
Kumar Sangakkara (c)
Well, after that long article, we move down to PWI. Pune have been just as unsuccessful as DC had been, if not worse. So in this auction, they made some major reforms. They pulled in players like Ajantha Mendis, Abhisheik Nayar, and Kane Richardson. So now they probably have too many options here. They have players like Wayne Parnell, Aaron Finch, Mitchell Marsh and Marlon Samuels out there as well. This will really be a mind boggler for the selectors. But here’s what I think: Let Finch and Manish Pandey open, and Yuvraj, Uthappa, captain Matthews, Ross Taylor and Nayar watch the middle order. Bhuvneshwar Kumar, who has already spearheaded India in all 3 formats, should join with Marsh to spearhead, and let Mendis and Rahul Sharma take care of the spin. This frees up one extra space, which should go to Ishwar Pandey. Their only injury is Micheal Clarke, who will not play the tournament due to injuries he procured while touring India.
Well, the IPL has started with another banger. The Kolkata Knight Riders managed to snatch a 6 – wicket win from their opponents the Delhi Daredevils. Gautam Gambhir won the toss for the Knights and chose to field first on the Eden Gardens track. The defending champs sent out a very clear message of what their intentions were this season as Brett Lee took out Unmukt Chand’s off stump in the very first ball of IPL 2013. Newly appointed skipper Mahela Jaywardene reminded KKR why he was worth the $1.4 million he was brought for, and responded by flicking the second ball for four. He then combined with David Warner in a 43-run stand which was going along comfortably at 7 an over. Then it happened. Narine. He bowled a dream delivery to have Warner caught at slip for 21, which was the turning point of the game. Mahela watched in horror as one by one, his partners fell at the other end. No one other than Warner and Mahela scored a double digit. Manpreet Juneja, Naman Ojha, Johan Botha, Andre Russell and Irfan Pathan all scored a total of 32 runs. So poor Mahela – not for the first time – had to shoulder more than he could, and eventually perished for 66 in the 19th over. After him, the hosts quickly cleaned up the tail to end DD’s innings at 128. Narine was thick among the wickets, as he snared not only Warner but Pathan, Russell, and Ashish Nehra. The T&T spinner ended with figures of 4 – 0 – 13 – 4. DD started well, with Nehra removing the dangerous Manvinder Bisla in the second over of the innings. However, Gambhir then unleashed himself on the Daredevils, and made 40+ run stands with Kallis and Manoj Tiwari before departing for 42 in the 13th over. Tiwari fell a few balls later, but Eoin Morgan and Yusuf Pathan ensured that the Knights won their first game of the season. Interestingly, this is the 4th time KKR are featuring in the opening game of an IPL, and this is the third time they have won. Sunil Narine was Man Of The Match, as he was literally playing with the batsmen, and taking wickets for fun. Well, that’s it for today. The second game, between the Mumbai Indians and the Royal Challengers Bangalore, will take place at the same time. Come back in a few hours for the match preview. See you then!
Mahela Jaywardene’s 66 was not enough to take the Daredevils to a win.
Cricket. The best international sport in the world in my opinion. With the 6 stumps, the 2 batsmen, and the 10 fielders, and the bowler, cricket is just an amazing game. Like any other game, it has formats. Cricket has three formats: Tests, ODIs, and T20s. Test cricket is “classic” cricket, played in white clothes, over a span of five days. It is the slowest of the formats, and takes a cricketing mind to watch patiently. ODI cricket is a little more on the exciting side. With 50 overs an innings, it is still very long, but not as long as Tests. Lastly, T20 cricket is the most quickly paced and exciting format of the game. It is only 20 overs long, meaning it is short, and hence not as boring. Now, let’s look at them from the perspective of the players.
Playing Test cricket for your country is a tremendous honor. Why, you may ask? Well, tests, as the name implies, are “tests”. They are the place where your skills will be put to the test. Test cricket demands more of the players than any format, both physically and technically. For one, the captain and coaches have to plan for five days, and not just one. They have to interpret how the pitch might behave for five days, and then come to a conclusion on selecting players and other stuff. Also, it really demands a lot of you, which ever position you play. Full-time bowlers are expected to bowl at least 35 overs a game, batsmen are expected to be like rocks; resolute, and determined to stay. To help them, strike rate is not important. They can take 200 balls to score 35 runs and nobody will care too much. Consequently, they are expected to score lots of runs. You are expected to get your team total to at least 360. Even fielders are tested heavily. For example, you can stand somewhere for like half the day and nothing will come your way, but when it does, you will be expected to pull out your best fielding. This is why fast-bowlers in particular find Tests very stressing, and also why quicks like Brett Lee and Shaun Tait forfeited this format and preferred to focus on the shorter formats.
ODI Cricket is kind of like the “neutral” format. This format is neither as slow and heavy as tests, nor as quick as T20s. You can score at a reasonable strike rate or about 80, and bowling spells are limited to 10 overs a bowler. A team total of 260 is a great total to have. It is not as terribly long as test cricket, but can go on from about 3 in the evening all the way till midnight. Still, it is the format where the majority of players play, as then neither have to be too durable, nor have to be too quickly paced. Even though teams that play it generally go at 4.5 an over on average, they can go at 8 an over sometimes, like the South Africa vs Australia match, where both teams scored 400+ runs in the whole 100 overs played.
T20 Cricket is the most unpredictable format of them all. You can need 5 of 30 balls with 5 wickets in hand and still lose the game, or score 25 in the last over to clinch a win. T20 is, in my opinion, the most fun of them all. It is 40 overs of run-scoring-wicket-falling-nail-biting-brain-twisting cricket. Your team can go from 124-0 in 13 overs to 150 all out in 19.4 overs, or go from 9-4 in 4 all the way to 197-7 in 20. It is the format that needs the most inventive thinking, and unorthodox tactics. In test cricket, you can bowl 6 full-tosses on middle stump, and even if the batsman hits 5 for six, if he gets out on the 6th, you’re safe. In T20 cricket, however, if you give 30 runs, whether or not you get a wicket, you will generally be taken off the attack. This is also the format where strike rate and economy matter the most. There’s a reason most senior batsmen don’t play T20s. After adapting to a required strike rate somewhere around a lukewarm 75-80, if you are expected to score at 200 when the circumstances call for it, it’s not easy. This is why most countries prefer to use T20s as a kind of testing site for young talents. Also, full-fledged all-rounders have more value in T20s than in any other format. That’s because you don’t have the option of using batsmen as part-time bowlers (if you ask MSD to bowl in T20s, the batsmen will take him for runs). So if you can bowl 4 overs at about 6.5, and hit at least 30 per game at a strike rate of around 120, you’re in. Despite all of what I have said, T20s are not very demanding physically. You need to bowl 4 overs as a bowler, and staying at the crease for about 10 overs will make you a very valuable batsman.
Well, the auctions for this year are over. It was amazing, though. So here’s the promised post-auction summary. I hope you enjoy it :).
The 2013 auctions were far more exciting than the 2012 one. A total of 37 players were brought by the franchises, for a total of $11.89 million. Like all the auctions so far, this one had many surprises. For one, Mumbai brought Glenn Maxwell for a million dollars, making him the only millionaire, and also the most expensive player in the auctions yesterday. The extraordinary part about this, is that less than a year ago, Maxwell had barely 9 lines on his wikipedia page. Let’s hope he performs, and doesn’t end up like how Jaddu ended up last year. Another surprise was Kane Richardson. The South Australian fast bowler was fiercely contested for by Chennai and Pune, and the latter emerged victorious, buying him for a tremendous sum of $700,000. This made him the third most expensive player in this auction. Ajantha Mendis, who was the leading wicket-taker in the ICC World Cup T20 last year, was the second most, also picked by Pune, at $725,000. The most expensive Indian player was Abhishek Nayar, who was sold to Pune at $675,000. Some other surprise buys were Chris Morris, the Highveld Lions all-rounder, who was sold to CSK at $625,000, Sri Lankan all-rounder Sachithra Senanayaka, who was picked up by KKR at $625,000, and the Sydney Sixers all-rounder Nathan Coulter-Nile, who was sold to Mumbai at $450,000. However, one of the biggest surprises was the fact that Doug Bollinger was unsold. The Australian quick was released by Chennai earlier, but wasn’t brought back. CSK shouldn’t miss him too much though, as they have replaced him with Dirk Nannes. Some other faces to look out for will be Ravi Rampaul, who got his first ever IPL contract worth $290,000 from Bangalore, Kushal Perera, who was picked up by Rajasthan for $20,000, and Ricky Ponting, who has been given his second IPL contract, this time with the Mumbai Indians, who forked over $400,000 for him. Another interesting fact is that RP Singh now becomes the first ever Indian player to have represented 4 different IPL franchises (the first player ever was Owais Shah), as RCB picked him up for a bargain price of $400,000. RCB brought the most players (7), while Pune spent the most money ($2.5 million). Pune have also brought back Micheal Clarke, at his base price of $400,000. So that was the IPL Auctions 2013. If you want, you can see a full page on who brought who here. Goodbye 🙂
I know you are all excited about the IPL auctions that will take place this Sunday. I am too :D. Just to let you know, I’ve managed to get my hands on a list of the players who will feature in this year’s auctions (you can download the pdf here), and now I will be editing all the pre-auction reviews slightly, so be sure to take a fresh look at them all. On other news, the Mumbai Indians have released RP Singh, and also John Wright will be coaching MI this year. Also, Micheal Clarke and Ricky Ponting are going to feature in this year’s auctions, both under the highest possible base price of $400,000. To make things easier, I will make another category called “IPL Auctions“, which will be a direct link to all the pre-auction reviews, and other auction stuff. See you soon!