MS Dhoni and Sarfraz Khan. (Photo Source: IPL/BCCI and Getty Images)

The Indian Premier League (IPL) and the Pakistan Super League (PSL) are among the most popular sporting events in the world. Year after year, fans all across the globe tune into the IPL and the PSL to get a taste of the top-quality, cricket action that these tournaments have to offer. Thanks to this popularity, both leagues have the backing of some lucrative money deals, which safeguards their financial sustainability.

Star sports, official broadcasters of the IPL, for example, invested a whopping, 2.5 billion USD (INR 16350 Crores) when they acquired the viewership rights for the 2018-22 cycle back in 2017. Naturally, there are quite a few advantages of having such strong, monetary support; the IPL has had a much-improved presentation and coverage over the last few seasons.

More importantly, though, the added boost has allowed franchisees to spend more on players. Not only has this made the auctions and trading dynamics much more interesting. But with the extra money, several IPL stars have found their ways into the top-paid athletes’ list. 

So how does the PSL, IPL’s rival tournament, in terms of viewership and competition, compare on this front? To answer that question, here’s a comparison salary-wise between the top paid PSL captains and their IPL counterparts. The results are rather interesting– especially considering how some of these franchises have performed historically.

Here’s the list:

1. Virat Kohli (INR 17 Crores) vs Shadab Khan (INR 1 Crore)

Virat Kohli and Shadab Khan
Virat Kohli and Shadab Khan. (Photo Source: IPL/BCCI and Getty Images)

It’s hardly a surprise that the captain of the Indian national team finds his name on this list, that too at the peak spot. What is strange– other than the salary discrepancy– is how drastically different the two teams have performed.

Kohli has been unable to replicate his success with the national team at the RCB– as is evident from their empty, silverware cabinet. Across the 6 seasons he has captained Bangalore in, RCB have only made 2 playoff appearances. With a win percentage of 47.16, he is quite lagging on the list top IPL captains.

Islamabad United (ISL), meanwhile, have been the best team in the PSL so far. Former Pakistan captain Misbah-ul-Haq captained them to title wins in the 2016 and 2018 seasons. Leggie Shadab Khan took over the reins once he retired, and has done a moderately successful job so far; leading them to a third-place finish in the 2019 season. The 2020 season wasn’t as good- his team finished last- but that single blemish aside, it’s fair to say that ISL has been a much more consistent side than RCB.

But that sentiment gets nulled when you compare the salaries of both the captains. RCB retained Virat for the 2018 mega auctions at a staggering price of INR 17 Crores; higher than any other player– retained or otherwise– in the tournament. Meanwhile, Islamabad also retained Shadab ahead of the 2020 season at the highest-paid, Platinum category of players. But in terms of earnings, Shadab’s contract rounds off to INR 1 Crore, 17 times less than Kohli. Talk about a head-scratcher!

2. MS Dhoni (INR 15 Crores) vs Sarfaraz Khan (INR 1 Crore)

MS Dhoni and Sarfraz Khan. (Photo Source: IPL/BCCI and Getty Images)

From one champion and one not-so-champion team, here are two teams with more similar trajectories. Mahendra Singh Dhoni, erstwhile captain of team India, has been one of the consistent pillars around CSK’s success ever since the beginning. Dhoni has been CSK’s captain for 10 seasons, and in each of those seasons, the side featured in the playoffs. With a record as stellar, and an unrivalled, 60.11 win percentage, one doesn’t have to guess why he’s the second highest-paid captain in the IPL.

Much like CSK, the Sarfaraz Ahmed led Quetta Gladiators team, has also been one of the marquee sides in the PSL. The team has won one title (2019) in their 4-playoff appearances– narrowly missing out on the 2020 season by net run rate. Sarfaraz, while not as tactically astute as Dhoni, has played a smart, man-manager role in the side, which has been one of the key reasons behind their success. 

But that’s about as far as the two teams’ similarities go. Paycheck wise, MS Dhoni’s contract with the CSK reads INR 15 Crores, jointly-tied second with another captain on the list. While the IPL doesn’t have an official salary bracket, it’s fair to assume that Dhoni would have been on the top-tier if it did have one. Sarfaraz, meanwhile, is on the top, platinum tier in the PSL. But his salary rounds off to only INR 1 Crore– considerably lower than Captain Cool’s.

3. Rohit Sharma (INR 15 Crores) vs Wahab Riaz (INR 1 Crore)

Rohit Sharma and Wahab Riaz
Rohit Sharma and Wahab Riaz. (Photo Source: IPL/BCCI and Getty Images)

The IPL has often been credited for getting the best out of certain players. In Rohit Sharma’s case, it was his maiden, leadership stint in the 2013 season that unveiled his true tactical genius. The MI management decided to hand Rohit the team’s captaincy duties halfway during that season.

The decision worked wonders, as the ‘Hitman’ led them to a 10-match winning streak and won the title. Ever since, it has been a one-track kind of journey for Mumbai, who’ve won titles in every alternate season under Rohit’s leadership. Not to mention, his success at the IPL also elevated him to the national team’s vice-captaincy, where he has done an equally impressive job.

Funnily enough, Wahab, like Rohit, was also made captain mid-season when Peshawar Zalmi (PSZ) decided to drop Darren Sammy. He captained them for five matches in the 2020 season and won two of those games; narrowly making it to the top-four. Maybe he can take a leaf out of Rohit’s book and lead Peshawar to their second title once the PSL resumes on November- who knows?  Although for the time being, Peshawar’s playoff record stands at a perfect, five on five.

Rohit and Riaz were both picked as marquee players for their respective teams, and both rank on the top tiers of their respective tournaments. But there’s a huge difference between how much they actually earn; Rohit’s contract with MI amounts to nearly INR 15 Crores, while Wahab receives INR 1 Crore from PSZ.

4. David Warner (INR 12 Crores) vs Imad Wasim (INR 50 Lakhs)

David Warner and Imad Wasim
David Warner and Imad Wasim. (Photo Source: IPL/BCCI and Getty Images)

Overseas captains in the IPL have usually had a hit-and-miss record, but SRH’s David Warner is an exception to that rule. Warner took over the Sunrisers’ full-time captaincy in the 2015 season. A league stage loss to RCB meant that they narrowly missed the playoffs that season.

But Warner and the SRH returned stronger the next year and got one better of their southern rivals- this time in the finals; to win their maiden, IPL trophy. They’ve made it into the playoffs every year since, but Warner’s involvement in the infamous, 2018 sandpaper-gate stripped him of his captaincy. 2020, however, has reopened the captaincy doors for Warner, and he will be eager to continue with his winning ways.

Karachi Kings (KRK), on the other hand, are yet to win their maiden PSL title, but they’ve been equally consistent. Shahid Afridi and Shoaib Malik captained them for the first two seasons and finished third on both occasions. Since 2018, Imad Wasim has been leading them. They finished second in the 2020 season, which should give them an extra chance at finally winning the title. 

Salary wise, however, the teams aren’t as consistent. David Warner and Bhuvneshwar Kumar were the only two players SRH retained ahead of the 2018 auctions; at INR 12 Crores and 8.5 Crores respectively. Imad, on the other hand, features on Karachi’s Diamond list of players and earns USD 70,000, or approximately INR 50 Lakhs.

5. KL Rahul (INR 11 Crores) vs Daren Sammy (INR 40 Lakhs)

KL Rahul and Darren Sammy
KL Rahul and Darren Sammy. (Photo Source: IPL/BCCI and Getty Images)

Kings XI Punjab has, traditionally, been the enigma of the IPL. Despite boasting some of the most dynamic limited-overs players among their ranks, the team under-performs and doesn’t make it to the knockouts. The KXIP management has handled the situation in a rather impulsive fashion; across the last 4-seasons, the team has had four captains, and have changed their head coaches thrice. KL Rahul will be leading them this time around, with seasoned, former team India coach Anil Kumble to help him with his maiden captaincy stint. 

Daren Sammy, on the other hand, has a reputation as one of the best captains in the T20 format. The two-time T20 World Cup-winning captain from St. Lucia has been a marquee star in the PSL. Sammy, across his five seasons for the PSZ, has led them to the playoffs on four occasions; including a title-winning season in 2017.

A combination of bad form and poor captaincy returns saw him replaced for this season. But given his recent success with the St Lucia Zouks in the Caribbean Premier League, Peshawar might be tempted to reinstate him for the knockouts.

It’d be interesting to see how Rahul reacts to this new, captaincy challenge, especially with a whopping, INR 11 Crores pricetag on his name. Sammy, meanwhile, in all likelihood, will play his final season of the PSL this year and would be eager to do justice to the INR 40 Lakhs worth of money that Peshawar is paying him.

~Written by Soham Bhowal