NEW DELHI: Batting star Virat Kohli will pick up the Indian Premier League´s largest-ever salary — $2.7 million — in this year´s tournament, with a host of big foreign names including Australian captain Steve Smith also cashing in.
Kohli will stay with Royal Challengers Bangalore alongside South Africa´s AB de Villiers, who will earn $1.7 million in the cash-rich event started by the Indian cricket board in 2008.
The Indian captain´s salary for the eight-team, 20-over tournament spread over two months beats the $2.5 million earned by allrounder Yuvraj Singh with Delhi in 2015.
Delhi Daredevils announced Ricky Ponting as head coach for the 2018 season. The batting legend coached Mumbai Indians to the 2015 title during a two-year stint.
Australian batsmen Smith and David Warner were also retained by their teams for $1.9 million each, making them the highest-paid foreign stars.
Smith will play for the Rajasthan Royals, returning from a two-year ban over match-fixing, and Warner with Sunrisers Hyderabad.
Chennai Super Kings, also returning to IPL after a two-year suspension, have former India captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni back on board.
But Kohli — who recently married Indian Bollywood actress Anushka Sharma — remains the top draw for the extravaganza in April and May.
Nicknamed King Kohli, the 29-year-old batsman is already listed among the world´s highest-paid athletes after smashing numerous records in his career.
He recently became the first batsman to score six double Test centuries as a captain.
Each team was allowed to re-sign up to three of their 2017 squad before the players are subject to bids from other teams in the auctions slated for January 27 and 28.
Another star performer, Ben Stokes, will be looking to re-enter the IPL fray in the auctions after he was granted a “no objection” certificate by the England and Wales Cricket Board.
The England allrounder, who missed the ongoing Ashes after being suspended for a pub brawl, was signed for a record fee of $2.16m by Rising Pune Supergiant last year.