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Biggest Player Salaries in the Indian Premier League

| December 26, 2020 6:17 am PDT
IPL logo with Virat Kohli and MS Dhoni

Since its inception in 2008, the Indian Premier League has become one of the most lucrative sporting events in the world.

The IPL season only lasts for around three months each year, yet in that time, the best T20 players on the planet earn a small fortune – we’re talking millions of dollars!

But who are the IPL’s top earners heading into 2021?

Below, I look at the players with the highest IPL salaries.

Virat Kohli ($2.66m)

Unsurprisingly, the poster boy of Indian cricket was the highest earner in the previous IPL campaign.

Virat Kohli took home a whopping $2.66m playing for the Royal Challengers Bangalore franchise in 2020, although his team finished fourth in the standings and lost to the Sunrisers Hyderabad in the first knockout round.

Not only has Kohli been the top-ranked ODI batsman since October 2017, but he also currently sits second in the Test rankings. It could be argued that the 32-year-old is the best batsman on the planet.

With 5878 runs from 192 IPL matches, Kohli is the highest run-scorer in the competition’s history.

By his own high standards, Kohli endured a below-par IPL 13 campaign. Still, only nine players scored more runs in the 2020 edition of the tournament.

But given everything that Kohli has done for RCB, it is no surprise that the franchise pays him so much.

MS Dhoni ($2.34m)

Back in 2008, the Chennai Super Kings paid MS Dhoni around $800,000 for the inaugural edition of the IPL. But with the competition’s popularity skyrocketing in recent times, Dhoni’s last paycheck saw him earn $2.34m.

However, CSK may be regretting that decision.

Dhoni only managed to hit 200 runs in 2020, finishing the campaign with an average of 25 and a top score of 47. In fact, his efforts saw him end up all the way down in 39th place on the overall runs leaderboard.

Despite last year’s shortcomings, Dhoni is officially the highest earner in IPL history. It is reported that he has racked up over $18m since the tournament began.

The 39-year-old has retired from international cricket, yet he still has a lot to offer in the T20 format of the game.

Rohit Sharma ($2.34m)

Only three players – Virat Kohli, Suresh Raina, and David Warner – have scored more IPL runs than Rohit Sharma. The big-hitter has been with the Mumbai Indians since 2011, helping the franchise to win a record five IPL titles.

MI heads into the 2021 season on the back of two straight triumphs, with Sharma top scoring in last term’s final victory over the Dehli Capitals.

Money well spent? I think so.

Sharma shines in all three formats – Test, ODI, and T20. But in recent years, it feels like the 33-year-old has upped his game when it comes to the IPL.

I mean, when you’re earning $2.34m in a single season, you probably have to be pretty good, right?

Rohit Sharma Pointing at the Camera While Playing Cricket

Rishabh Pant ($2.34m)

Rishabh Pant lost in the 2020 final to Sharma’s Mumbai Indians, although he still earned a small fortune!

Shikhar Dhawan and Shreyas Iyer stole the show with the bat for the Dehli Capitals last season. Dhawan’s 618 runs saw him finish second on the leaderboard, while Iyer ended up in fourth place with 519 runs to his name.

But Pant is currently MI’s biggest earner.

The wicket-keeper-batsman was named the ICC Emerging Player of the Year for 2018 and has since gone on to show exactly why he deserved that accolade. He may still only be 23, yet he is already viewed as one of India’s brightest cricketers.

I wouldn’t be surprised if Pant is offered an even bigger salary in 2021.

Pat Cummins ($2.21m)

After checking out four batsmen, we finally get to the first bowler on the list – Pat Cummins.

The Australian paceman represented the Kolkata Knight Riders in 2014 before switching to the Delhi Daredevils in 2017. But KKR regained Cummins’ service for the 2020 season, paying him over $2m.

Unfortunately, Cummins didn’t live up to his price tag.

The Aussie only managed to pick up 12 wickets in 14 games last season. To put that into perspective, Kagiso Rabada – the leading wicket-taker in the 2020 IPL – claimed 30 wickets, Mumbai Indians duo Jasprit Bumrah and Trent Bould took 27 and 25, respectively.

Cummins may find himself eighth in the current ODI bowling rankings, but he might be searching for a new IPL team in 2021.

Ben Stokes ($1.95m)

Widely regarded as one of the best all-rounders on the planet, Ben Stokes has represented the Rajasthan Royals for the past three IPL seasons.

RR paid Stokes $1.95 for the 2020 season, but for various reasons, he only ended up playing eight matches for the franchise. If you break it down, that works out at just under $250,000 per game!

The Englishman still managed to make it into the top 30 run-scorers last term, smashing a memorable 107* in just 60 balls against the Mumbai Indians. But the Royals eventually finished rock bottom of the table, losing eight of their 14 games.

With 20 wickets in 14 appearances, compatriot and teammate Jofra Archer ended up winning the 2020 IPL MVP award. Archer looks set to be among the top earners for the next season.

Sunil Narine ($1.95m)

It’s fair to say that Sunil Narine has become somewhat of a T20 specialist.

Not only has the West Indian starred for KKR since 2012, but he has also represented the Sixers and the Renegades in Australia’s Big Bash League, as well as featuring in tournaments in Pakistan, Bangladesh, and the Caribbean.

Narine’s experience is surely the main reason why the Knight Riders made him their second-highest earner in the previous campaign.

However, the bowling all-rounder endured a relatively uninspiring season with both bat and ball.

Narine only took five wickets in ten outings for KKR in 2020, going for 302 runs along the way. At the crease, he managed to hit 121 runs, although 64 of those came in a single innings against the Delhi Capitals.

Sunil Narine Playing Cricket and Pointing Up with Both Hands

Steve Smith ($1.95m)

When it comes to the IPL, Steve Smith has been around the block a few times.

The Australia star first featured for the Pune Warriors back in 2012 before joining RR in 2014. He then had a spell for the Rising Pune Supergiant between 2016 and 2017, but he returned to the Royals in 2019.

Rajasthan decided to pay Smith $1.95m for the 2020 season, with the franchise expecting big things from the batsman. Ultimately, he failed to repay the franchise’s faith – and his paycheck!

Smith played six more games than teammate Stokes, yet he only scored 26 more runs than the Englishman.

Still, the Aussie sits 29th in the IPL all-time run-scoring charts, so he can probably be forgiven for earning so much. Let’s face it; he could easily finish as the tournament’s highest scorer in 2021.

David Warner ($1.95m)

Few batsmen in the world that can hit a ball like David Warner.

The Sunrisers Hyderabad captain was the third-highest run-scorer in the 2020 IPL, smashing 548 with an average of 39.14. Incidentally, he is now also the third-highest IPL run-scorer of all time, notching up 5254 since 2009.

Having represented the Delhi Daredevils between 2009 and 2013 before switching to SRH for the 2014 season, Warner has to be among the highest earners in the competition’s history.

The Australian has won countless awards throughout his IPL career. He claimed the Orange Cap in 2015, 2017, and 2019 and Shot of the Season in 2016.

This IPL stalwart is among the top earners for a reason.

AB de Villiers ($1.72m)

AB de Villiers began his IPL career with the Delhi Daredevils, competing for the franchise between 2008 and 2010. But he has since spent the best part of a decade playing alongside Kohli for RCB.

It is estimated that the South African has earned over $12m from playing in the IPL over the years.

The 36-year-old just scraped into the top ten run-scorers in 2020, hitting 454. He also finds himself sixth on the all-time leaderboard on 4849 runs. Satisfyingly, he sits just ahead of one of the most iconic T20 batsman ever – Chris Gayle.

Due to his age, it isn’t yet clear if de Villiers will be offered another contract. But even if he isn’t, he can’t really have any complaints when he looks at his bank account.

AB de Villiers Playing Cricket

Conclusion

We all know that NBA stars earn a serious amount of money, while EPL salaries are often openly discussed in the media. But IPL players are now right up there among the highest-earning sportspeople on the planet.

The Indian Premier League has grown massively since its inception in 2008, and as the brand continues to flourish, player salaries will only go up.

The Mumbai Indians clinched a record fifth IPL title in 2020, beating the Delhi Capitals in the final. The new season – the 14th edition of the tournament – is set to commence in April 2021.

If you’re interested in betting on cricket, why not check out our cricket betting guide.

Ben Morris
Ben Morris

Ben is a sportswriter and tipster who specializes in soccer. Currently based in the UK, he has traveled all around the world watching – and betting on – his beloved sport.

Alongside his regular soccer content, Ben publishes blogs and picks for cricket, Formula 1, Aussie rules, darts, and various other sports.

Ben is a diehard fan of Nottingham Forest and England, so he hasn’t had much to cheer about in recent years!

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