The Indian Premier League is modelled in a specific manner so that all the stakeholders benefit from the tournament. And it happens in a cycle: Franchises spend crores on the players and those players attract the audience and hence the advertisers. Or that is the hope.
Over the years, the teams have placed big bets on the cricketers and here we look at the highest-paid players of all the seasons till now.
2008: MS Dhoni - Chennai Super Kings
Riding high on the success of the maiden World T20, his first tournament as a captain, MS Dhoni managed to rake in $1.5 million (₹10.86 crore in 2021), a whole THIRTEEN years ago, so...
2009: Andrew Flintoff - Chennai Super Kings, Kevin Pietersen - Royal Challengers Bangalore.
It was a good season for the English cricketers as two of them ended up being the highest-paid with $1.5 million (₹11.23 crore in 2021). However, both of them could not play for too long as Flintoff was ruled out due to injury after three games and Pietersen was called back to play for the England national team after six.
2010: Kieron Pollard - Mumbai Indians, Shane Bond - Kolkata Knight Riders.
The two players were so much in demand that season that the auction organisers had to come up with a tie-breaker. That is how they were allotted to their respective teams for $750,000 (₹5.43 crore in 2021).
2011 - Gautam Gambhir - Kolkata Knight Riders.
This was the first time that someone got a double-figure salary in the IPL. The Delhi batsman bagged a whopping $2.4 million (₹17.38 crore in 2021) and proved his worth by leading the team to the playoffs. He'd continue good work in the following years and guide KKR to victory twice.
2012 - Ravindra Jadeja - Chennai Super Kings.
CSK has an amazing retention capacity, a huge factor in its success. Ravindra Jadeja has contributed a lot to the squad over the years but he was initially bought by the franchise for $2 million (₹14.49 crore in 2021).
2013 - Glenn Maxwell - Mumbai Indians.
Glenn Maxwell was the highest-paid in 2013 auctions with $1 million (₹7.24 crore in 2021). However, he fared pretty badly and was dropped by the side after that season.
2014 - Yuvraj Singh - Royal Challengers Bangalore.
Yuvraj's services were bought for ₹14 crore, which was an all-time highest pay at that time. This came as a shock to many, but Yuvraj proved the naysayers wrong by ending up as the second-highest scorer for RCB. He wasn't up to the mark, though, and wasn't retained in 2015.
2015: Yuvraj Singh - Delhi Daredevils.
While RCB did not deem it important to buy Yuvraj back, DD cashed in on the opportunity. Thanks to that, Yuvraj became the highest-paid cricketer in the tournament's history by breaking his own record the previous year. He got ₹16 crore, which did not prove to be worthwhile as he performed quite badly. He wasn't bought back by RCB the next year.
2016: Shane Watson - Royal Challengers Bangalore.
Before doing wonders for CSK, Shane was RCB's big bet and the franchise paid ₹9.50 crore for his services. His performance was average and he was retained by the side for the next season.
2017: Ben Stokes - Rising Pune Supergiants.
2019 was the year that truly changed Stokes' career but when it comes to league cricket, he had already peaked in 2017. He received a sum of ₹14.50 crore, which was a very sensible expenditure. Stokes contributed with both, the bat and the ball and was adjudged the Man of the Tournament. He couldn't play the final, though, and Pune lost Mumbai by 1 run.
2018: Ben Stokes - Rajasthan Royals.
After his heroics in 2017, Ben Stokes was going to be on everyone's list, but it was RR who managed to win the bid. He was given ₹12.50 crore, but sadly did not perform as well as he did for Pune.
2019: Jaydev Unadkat - Rajasthan Royals, Varun Chakravarthy - Kings XI Punjab.
Both got ₹8.40 crore from their respective franchises, but could not do justice to the salary. Understandably, they were dropped by them the next season.
2020: Pat Cummins - Kolkata Knight Riders.
Pat Cummins was offered ₹15.50 crore, in the pandemic-hit year and almost broke Yuvraj's 2015 record. He was average in his performance, though he did show signs of brilliance occasionally.
2021: Chris Morris - Rajasthan Royals.
What Cummins couldn't, Morris did. He bagged a ₹16.25 crore and is currently the highest-paid cricketer in the history of the tournament. It remains to be seen how he performs and whether he is able to help his side win that elusive title.