Even a couple of days after Rising Pune Supergiant stormed into the Indian Premier League 2017 final, sports columns across India continued on Thursday (May 18) to dissect their success this season. Even as the franchise made headlines, it was Washington Sundar, the offspinner who hogged most of the limelight, thanks to his maturity and clarity of thought.

Elsewhere, no end was in sight to the pay dispute between Cricket Australia and its players, while an assessment of the neutral venues experiment in Ranji Trophy is expected, and a few former players weighed in on their Champions Trophy favourites.

This will be remembered as Supergiant Season (The Hindu)
When such a scenario loomed in the UEFA Champions League in 2006, an exception was made and the previous year’s winner Liverpool was included in the draw despite not making the Premier League’s top four.
Closer home, after its fairytale journey to the I-League title, Aizawl FC would not be part of the Cup division should the AIFF decide to go ahead after all with its idea of an integrated league for next year.

Wonderkid Washington Sundar hitting the right notes (The Indian Express)
There is an indiscernible scar on Washington Sundar’s temple, just above the right eye, that his father M Sundar figuratively opens and reopens. The story behind the scar, he recounts, is that a day before an inter-school final, Washington got struck on his head. But the next day, against the doctor’s advice and father’s concern, with four zig-zagging stitches on the deep cut, Washington struck a match-winning unbeaten 39. Sundar felt an intangible flutter in his head. To him, it was the first sign of his son’s innate drive for the game.

How Washington Sundar was subconsciously turned into a frontline offspinner (The Times of India)
The word about his off-spinning talent didn’t need to be advocated much. His evolution only seems organic. Hrishikesh Kanitkar, Tamil Nadu coach, would still like to call him an all-rounder but couldn’t hide the fact that his team banked on his off-spinners to win the Vijay Hazare trophy. “Both the Pune team and the Tamil Nadu team have a strong batting lineup. That’s why he is batting lower down but that doesn’t affect him. He doesn’t mind spending more time on his bowling. When I took charge, Lakshmipathy Balaji told me about his talent and that was it,” Kanitkar told TOI.

The intrigue in the name of indigenous Washington (The Hindu)
“I was poor and he would buy uniform for me, pay my school fee, get me books, take me to the ground in his cycle and constantly encourage me,” said Sundar. And when Sundar subsequently turned out in the TNCA first division league for clubs such as Bunts, Sridhar CC and Alwarpet, Washington was always around guiding and cheering him.
Sundar said, “To me he was everything. He was the happiest man when I made it to the Ranji probables.”

At captain-coach conclave, a rethink on neutral venues (The Indian Express)
It’s learnt that the BCCI feels that it’s time for a rethink and are even considering a return to the traditional home-and-away format — where teams will play half their matches on the road. The proposal had been floated in the first place last year as a way of improving the quality of pitches used for the Ranji Trophy and also eradicating the practice of creating dubious pitches to suit the home team.

Cricket Australia, players agree to disagree (Sydney Morning Herald)
The two bodies have been at or near loggerheads for more than six months. CA is determined to scrap revenue-sharing after 20 years, saying more funds are needed for the game’s grassroots, and that its offer provides handsomely for players. The ACA is equally resolved to keep revenue-sharing, saying the system is not broken and does not need fixing.

Why the players must continue the fight against Cricket Australia (The Australian)
It seems, however, that what sticks in CA’s craw is the inconvenience of considering any view but its own. How dare the players express opinions? How dare they do anything but obey? This is the voice of authoritarianism and it has no place in a modern game.
It’s not too late to turn this back. For once, in a way, the money part is the less difficult. If the apportionment of expenses is complex, the revenue is ample and growing — at least it is, both parties might note, in an environment of industrial accord.

Indian cricket team’s pace attack the best in the world: Chaminda Vaas (Hindustan Times)
Vaas reserved special praise for Bumrah, who is being groomed by Sri Lanka pace ace Lasith Malinga at Mumbai Indians. “I am sure whatever Malinga or Shane Bond (MI bowling coach) will tell him (Bumrah), he will implement. The best part is that he is giving his 100% which is important. He is improving day-by-day which is crucial for a fast bowler. He is doing well with the advice he is getting. He is doing a wonderful job at the moment,” Vaas said.

Kapil Dev says England has a ruthless approach (The Hindu)
If I look at the Indian team on paper, it looks fantastic, but it would be very unfair… my heart says yes (they can do it again) and my cricketing brain says no. It looks like India has more chances, but again in one-day cricket you don’t need big names, but big commitment that very day.

Who will open with Martin Guptill for the Black Caps? (New Zealand Herald)
Opt for Tom Latham, and the team might get regular runs at a steady strike rate; choose Luke Ronchi and a game could be wrested away from the opposition, at high risk, in a matter of overs. The opening wins of the current tri-series against Ireland and Bangladesh provided evidence of the pair’s strengths.