With the last couple of games, both critically important, of the Indian Premier League 2017 upon us, there was little else to bother with in the Indian newspapers on Friday (May 19). Gautam Gambhir and Rohit Sharma, captains of the competing teams in the playoff match on Friday (May 19), came in for special attention, and the role of curators and their remuneration were examined.

Away in Australia, there’s talk that Darren Lehmann might double up as a mediator between the authorities and the players in the ongoing pay dispute even as Chris Woakes sympathised with the situation.

Rohit Sharma: A Goodfella (The Indian Express)
‘Genuine aadmi hai’. It’s an adjective that we Indians understand well, and it’s a line that sits easily on Rohit Sharma. ‘Yaaron ka yaar’ is another compliment trotted out about him by fellow cricketers. Real-life examples support the mushiness in the cricketing fraternity. He had stood up for an Indian cricketer who fell on bad times, calling him in nights, taking calls at 4 am even, counselling him back to good mental health. He even got him an IPL contract. Another cricketer who was fighting for a spot with him in the Indian middle order talks about the “genuine” warmth in the joy expressed by Sharma when the player got among runs.

Gautam Gambhir’s hunger to succeed sets him apart (The Indian Express)
Many such moments were on display when Gautam Gambhir led Kolkata Knight Riders during the ongoing edition of the Indian Premier League. Like the Indian skipper Virat Kohli, Gambhir is a man of lot of words and is seldom tight-lipped in the middle. Whether his side is behind or ahead, the intent from Gambhir remains right up there. Take for instance the Eliminator against Sunrisers Hyderabad on Wednesday.

‘I feel like a 70-year-old after stress of Sunrisers Hyderabad match’: Gambhir (Hindustan Times)
I was born in October 1981. By that count I am 35 years of age. But I can assure you that after the stress and the tension that I went through during the Sunrisers Hyderabad game, I feel like a worn out 70-year old. Till around 9.30 pm, I felt as if I owned half the planet and the ownership papers of the other half were being prepared. Then rain pelted my planet and washed away all my dreams. Almost.

I love the challenge of bowling in Powerplay: Washington Sundar (Times of India)
Washington Sundar may just be 17, but in this IPL, he has shown his maturity. The Pune offie, with 8 scalps from 10 games, has been Steve Smith’s go-to man during the Powerplay overs. With an impressive economy rate of 6.61, Washington has surely made all the right noises. In a chat with TOI on Thursday, Washington spoke of the strong bond he has formed with MS Dhoni, on not trying too many things and more.

Chandrasekhar: curator par excellence (The Hindu)
The Indian Premier League is not all about high-profile stars who showcase their skills on the pitch, but also about some gentlemen who play a significant role in the successful conduct of the event like the 59-year-old Y.L. Chandrasekhar, HCA curator, now in the reckoning to bag the ‘best curator’ award having won it in the last three editions.

Chandu, as he is known in cricketing circles, also happens to be the only certified BCCI curator from Telangana State and one who is widely acclaimed for producing the best wickets for ODIs and the IPL over the years.

In cash-rich BCCI, curators & groundsmen await their share (Times of India)
They are the first ones to reach the ground and the last to leave, putting in the longest hours on the field. And yet, the Indian curators and groundsmen, who are responsible for preparing the 22-yard pitches and the outfield for the domestic and international matches, are paid a pittance. According to sources, the five zonal curators of Indian board (BCCI) are paid around Rs 50,000 per month and have not been given a hike in 10 years.

Post 1.27 AM finish, BCCI to revisit IPL rain rule (Indian Express)
The IPL governing council is going to revisit the rain rule at its meeting in Hyderabad on Saturday. It comes on the heels of the Eliminator between Sunrisers Hyderabad (SRH) and Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR) at the Chinnaswamy Stadium that went on till 1:27 am on Thursday. Kolkata knocked out the defending champions in a truncated six-over run chase to set up a virtual semi-final against the Mumbai Indians to be played here on Friday. Chairman of the IPL Governing Council Rajeev Shukla confirmed on Thursday that the whole issue would be discussed at the meeting, along with the possibility of incorporating a reserve day for knockout matches in the future.

Mumbai Indians vs Kolkata Knight Riders: A peek into the teams’ weaknesses (Hindustan Times)
Mumbai Indians and Kolkata Knight Riders have both been outstanding throughout the 2017 Indian Premier League (IPL), and are just a step away from reaching the final. However, both teams have their own sets of problems. Ahead of their qualifier clash on Friday, HT takes a look at the two teams’ weaknesses.

Chris Woakes sympathetic towards Australians over ongoing pay dispute but believes Ashes will go ahead (Independent)
Chris Woakes has offered sympathy to Australia’s cricketers during their ongoing pay dispute but says England are not yet worried this winter’s Ashes series will be put in jeopardy.

Australia’s leading players are standing firm in opposition to a new pay structure that would see the current model that offers all the country’s cricketers a share of the board’s profits scrapped.

Cricket pay dispute: With an ear in both camps, Darren Lehmann is a key figure (Sydney Morning Herald)
In bridging the gap between the two warring factions of Australian cricket, national coach Darren Lehmann may find himself as an accidental hero in the bitter pay dispute that has threatened to plunge the game into turmoil.

Veteran NSW Breaker Sarah Aley named in Southern Stars World Cup squad (Sydney Morning Herald)
Evergreen NSW quick Sarah Aley has capped a remarkable late-career surge to win selection in the Southern Stars World Cup squad. The 32-year-old international rookie was the leading wicket-taker in the Sydney Sixers’ Women’s Big Bash League winning season and is one of seven NSW players in the team, joining youngsters Ashleigh Gardner and Belinda Vakarewa along with regulars Alex Blackwell, Alyssa Healy, Rachael Haynes and Ellyse Perry.

Not much effort to keep cricket in Asiad (Daily Star)
It is a little surprising that there has been no hue and cry over the expulsion of cricket from the Games, as it is a source of glory for an otherwise medal-starved nation. But quite apart from the Bangladeshi perspective, cricket being dropped from the Asian Games — the showpiece multisport event of the region most passionate about the game — should be concerning to the game and its developmental ambitions.

“It may not matter that much to the Test teams, but it is very important to non-Test playing countries,” said Syed Ashraful Huq, Bangladesh’s first domestic longer-version double-centurion in the early 1980s and in 2007, as the Asian Cricket Council’s (ACC’s) CEO, the driving force behind getting cricket featured in Guangzhou. “When they [non-Test playing countries] play cricket in the Games, their federations get grants from their respective Olympic councils, which are used to develop the teams that will participate in the event.”