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IPL: Sunrisers Hyderabad, the franchise backed by media conglomerate Sun Group

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Sunrisers Hyderabad's Harry Brook celebrates after scoring a century (100 runs) during the Indian Premier League (IPL) Twenty20 cricket match between Kolkata Knight Riders and Sunrisers Hyderabad at the Eden Gardens Stadium in Kolkata on April 14, 2023. (Photo by Dibyangshu SARKAR / AFP) (Photo by DIBYANGSHU SARKAR/AFP via Getty Images)
Sunrisers Hyderabad's Harry Brook celebrates after scoring a century during the 2023 Indian Premier League. Photo: Getty Images (DIBYANGSHU SARKAR via Getty Images)

When the Hyderabad Sunrisers won their maiden Indian Premier League (IPL) title in the 2016 season, it came three seasons after being formed following the disbandment of Deccan Chargers.

The Sunrisers, whose supporters are called the ‘Oranje Army’, defeated the Royal Challengers Bangalore by eight runs in the final. Since winning the title, they reached the play-offs every year, including a runners-up spot in 2018, up until the 2021 IPL.

That season, SRH won only three of 14 games and finished as the basement side. Form fared little better in the 2022 edition, with the Hyderabad-based franchise finishing eighth.

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Aiden Markram was named Sunrisers captain for IPL 2023, having led Sunrisers Eastern Cape to the inaugural SA20 title. Brian Lara, SRH’s team's strategic advisor and batting coach in 2022, also replaced Tom Moody as coach for the 2023 edition.

Star players

Harry Brook - England

Heralded as one of the most destructive batsmen across all three formats, the Englishman came into this maiden IPL with 2,432 runs from 99 T20s at a strike rate of 148.32. Little wonder Brook, 24, formed a bidding war involving Rajasthan Royals and Royal Challengers Bangalore before Sunrisers shelled out £1.3m in the IPL auction. It was almost nine times his base price, justified when he bludgeoned the first century of IPL 2023.

Bhuvneshwar Kumar Singh - India

Signed by Hyderabad in 2014, Kumar has played a leading hand at the front and back end with his death bowling expertise, not least in their title-winning season.

Sunrisers Hyderabad's Bhuvneshwar Kumar (C) celebrates with teammates after taking the wicket of Punjab Kings' Prabhsimran Singh (not pictured) during the Indian Premier League (IPL) Twenty20 cricket match between Sunrisers Hyderabad and Punjab Kings at the Rajiv Gandhi International Cricket Stadium in Hyderabad on April 9, 2023. (Photo by Noah SEELAM / AFP) (Photo by NOAH SEELAM/AFP via Getty Images)
Bhuvneshwar Kumar, centre, celebrates after taking another IPL wicket. Photo: Getty Images (NOAH SEELAM via Getty Images)

He won the purple cap twice running and snared 18 wickets in his first four seasons. He remains SRH's leading wicket-taker.

Behind the Sunrisers’ brand

The Chennai-based media and television conglomerate Sun Group (SUNTV.NS) snapped up the franchise vacated by Deccan Chargers in 2012 after it hit financial issues. The Chargers’ owners, Deccan Chronicle Holdings, had paid $107m (£85.8m) for the franchise. With the IPL four seasons in, the new owners’ annual fee of $15.81m over an initial five years was deemed a ‘steal’ within the IPL fraternity.

The franchise is owned by Kalanithi Maran, whose Sun Group owns TV networks, newspapers, radio stations and a movie production house. Seen as somewhat of a reclusive businessman, his daughter, Kavya Maran, is the IPL franchise’s CEO and co-owner, the face of the team’s ownership and has overseen operations since 2020.

CHENNAI, INDIA  AUGUST 22: Chairman and Managing Director of Sun Group Kalanithi Maran with his wife Kaveri Kalanithi Maran poses for a picture during an interview on August 22, 2005 in Chennai, India. (Photo by Sai Sen/Mint via Getty Images)
Chairman and managing ddirector of Sun Group, Kalanithi Maran, with his wife Kaveri Kalanithi Maran pictured in 2005 in Chennai, India. Photo: Getty Images (Mint via Getty Images)

Kavya, who has an MBA from the UK’s Warwick Business School, also has involvement in her father’s Sun TV network operations. It is reported that the franchise owners never meddle in team decisions.

When the family took over the franchise, Hyderabadi great V.V.S. Laxman was installed as brand ambassador, former India captain K Srikkanth as mentor, and Australian Moody as coach. They also retained a number of players from the Deccan Chargers era, a strategy which proved incisive in 2016.

Former Indian cricketer and Sunrisers Hyderabad team mentor V.V.S. Laxman arrives for the first day of the Indian Premier League player auction in Bangalore, India, Saturday, Jan. 27, 2018. The IPL auctions are being held in Bangalore for the eleventh edition of the domestic Twenty20 cricket tournament, which will be held at different venues across the country with eight teams participating. (AP Photo/Aijaz Rahi)
Former Indian cricketer and Sunrisers Hyderabad team mentor V.V.S. Laxman arrives for the first day of the Indian Premier League player auction in Bangalore, India, in 2018. Photo: AP Photo (ASSOCIATED PRESS)

The money spinners

Although Sun Group paid more than double what Deccan Chronicle Holdings had for the inaugural IPL team in 2008, the franchise has seen its brand exposure increase alongside the rise of the league in recent years. The Sunrisers’ franchise has an estimated brand value of $69m, alongside its market value of $970m. According to a report by Forbes, revenue and operating income for the team are a respective $31.8m and $3.2m.

Across its varied portfolio with advertisers, Sunrisers has official partners in radio, medical, gaming, outdoor media, cosmetics, celebration/pouring, education, tyre and telecom.

Read More: Delhi Capitals, India's T20 underachievers

Did you know…

  • The Sunrisers are seemingly slow out of the IPL seasonal blocks. In the 2023 edition, they had racked up two opening defeats for the fourth time in a row. Yet, the two franchise titles Sunrisers have won in India and South Africa have come on the back of those first losses.

  • The Hyderabad franchise’s highest IPL score came in 2019 when Jonny Bairstow and David Warner gleefully took the Royal Challengers Bangalore attack apart, opening up with a record IPL first-wicket stand of 185. Bairstow mustered 114 from just 56 balls, before Warner finished 100 not out in Hyderabad's 231-2.

Sunrisers Hyderabad's Jonny Bairstow raises his bat after scoring a century against Royal Challengers Bangalore during the VIVO IPL T20 cricket match in Hyderabad, India, Sunday, March 31, 2019. (AP Photo/ Mahesh Kumar A.)
Sunrisers Hyderabad's Jonny Bairstow raises his bat after scoring a century against Royal Challengers Bangalore in 2019. Photo: AP (Mahesh Kumar A., Associated Press)
  • Sunrisers are fourth when it comes to win percentages — historically coming out on top in 50.72% of their matches ahead of the 2023 start. They had won 68 of their 138 T20 matches, losing 66. They are also one of four franchises with more victories than losses.

What they say on Sunrisers…

“Harry Brook is a long-term player. Sunrisers have identified a very good young player and they see him as a 10-year plus project. A lot of people will look back and say, gosh, they got him as a steal. In all three formats he has absolutely nailed it. He has done it with great freedom and he has taken attacks apart.” Tom Moody, Sunrisers' former head coach

“I don’t think SRH has a batting unit that can put up a score of 170-190. If Markram doesn’t score, the task becomes more difficult. Tripathi is a skillful player and there is no doubt about it but he hasn’t done anything significant with the bat so far this season. Maybe he might score in the season further.” Former India spinner Harbhajan Singh