IPL: Gujarat Titans, 'the Manchester City of T20 cricket'

The Ahmedabad-based franchise takes on Chennai Super Kings in the IPL final

Gujarat Titans' Shubman Gill celebrates his century after hitting the winning runs during the Indian Premier League cricket match between Royal Challengers Bangalore and Gujarat Titans in Bengaluru, India, Monday, May 22, 2023. (AP Photo /Aijaz Rahi)
Gujarat Titans' Shubman Gill – dubbed as the 'prince of Indian cricket' – celebrates a century in IPL 2023. Photo: AP

Undeterred at being one of two new Indian Premier League teams for the start of the 2022 edition, the Ahmedabad-based franchise scripted a superb win, led by Hardik Pandya in their debut season.

With 10 victories from 14 matches, the Titans topped the standings to seal a play-off place and then defeated Rajasthan Royals at their home Narendra Modi Stadium venue to set a Guinness World Record with an attendance over 101,000.

They have already installed themselves as one of the IPL’s powerhouse teams, underlined by finishing top of the standings for a second year running on their way to the 2023 final.

“We'll probably have to call them the Manchester City of the IPL at the moment,” former South African paceman Shaun Pollock said of the Titans after their table-topping exploits.

Star players

Hardik Pandya India

A pivotal all-rounder, the captain set the standards in IPL 2022 with 487 runs in 15 matches and eight wickets for good measure. Starred with bat and ball as Gujarat turned in a seven-wicket victory over Rajasthan Royals in the 2022 final.

Chennai Super Kings' Mahendra Singh Dhoni (R) and Gujarat Titans' Hardik Pandya gesture during toss before the start of the Indian Premier League (IPL) Twenty20 first qualifier cricket match between Chennai Super Kings and Gujarat Titans at the MA Chidambaram Stadium in Chennai on May 23, 2023. (Photo by R.Satish BABU / AFP) (Photo by R.SATISH BABU/AFP via Getty Images)
Chennai Super Kings' Mahendra Singh Dhoni and Gujarat Titans' Hardik Pandya at IPL 2023. Photo: Getty

Shubman Gill India

With over 700 runs in the 2023 IPL, his penchant for big scores at the top order is there for all to see. Gill, 23, has been touted as a natural successor to Virat Kohli, having overshadowed the Indian great with back-to-back IPL tons — his first hundred in the world’s richest league coming off 58 balls at a strike rate of 174 — as Titans topped the regular standings.

Read More: Meet the British owner of IPL champions Gujarat Titans

Behind the Gujarat Titans brand

In 2021, the BCCI invited global investors to partake in an auction for two new franchises, the IPL set for a 10-strong league. Gujarat Titan’s ownership was formed with a staggering $750m (£606m) sum paid by CVC Capital Partners, Europe's biggest private equity firm, to become franchise owners.

CVC has interests in a variety of sports, including Formula One, football and rugby.

With assets worth over £100bn according to the company website, buyout giant CVC, a “secretive” PE firm according to the Financial Times, became the first western private equity group to take sole ownership of an IPL team.

Cricket fans arrive at the Narendra Modi Stadium in Ahmedabad on March 31, 2023, to watch the Indian Premier League (IPL) Twenty20 cricket match between Gujarat Titans and Chennai Super Kings. (Photo by SAM PANTHAKY / AFP) / IMAGE RESTRICTED TO EDITORIAL USE - STRICTLY NO COMMERCIAL USE (Photo by SAM PANTHAKY/AFP via Getty Images)
Thousands of fans arrive at the Narendra Modi Stadium in Ahmedabad to watch the IPL clash between between Gujarat Titans and Chennai Super Kings. Photo: Getty

Their stock has risen considerably since taking the helm, given the IPL’s continuing expansion, large audience and multi-billion pound media rights deals. CVC had previously had past buyout discussions with Rajasthan Royals and then Delhi Daredevils, but both never materialised.

“CVC have a great track record of identifying opportunities and creating value in many of the sectors more traditionally targeted by private equity," a source told Yahoo Finance in 2022. "The team are super smart and are now developing a strong reputation across the sporting arena."

The money spinners

Gujarat Titans have a franchise value of $850m, while CVC Partners have yet to reveal any revenue or operating income figures.

Ahead of the 2023 edition, COO Arvinder Singh told Outlook India: “Gujarat Titans is sitting at a 35 per cent increase in revenue as compared to last year and more is in the pipeline. I would say that this would easily go beyond 85 per cent.”

IPL team Gujarat Titans's COO Col. Arvinder Singh, left, Gujarat Titans's Director of Cricket Vikram Solanki, 2nd left, Captain Hardik Pandya, 4th left, BCCI secretary Jay Shah, 3rd right and Head Coach Ashish Nehra, right launch team jersey at Narendra Modi stadium in Ahmedabad, India, Sunday, March 13, 2022. (AP Photo/Ajit Solanki)
Gujarat Titans's Arvinder Singh, left, is the franchise's COO. Photo: Getty

GT’s total sponsorship revenue for the 2023 season accrued $10.8m, the franchise’s biggest investment coming from electric scooter manufacturer Ather Energy, its principal partner, in an agreement valued at around $2.5m per year over a two-year deal.

Read More: Chennai Super Kings, the power franchise led by MS Dhoni

Overall in sponsorship, the Titans had agreements with 21 brands for the 2023 season — the franchise’s top five partners accounting for 46% of the club’s total income, according to Sportcal. With an auction purse of around £1.88m for the 2023 auction, their biggest spend came with the signing of New Zealand's Kane Williamson for $243,000.

Did you know…

  • Gujarat Titans’ debut win in 2022 was Hardik Pandya’s fifth IPL title, his first as captain, having won four when tied to the Mumbai Indians

  • The franchise has been marked out as the kings of the chase. In 2022, they batted second in nine of 16 games: seven of their eight wins came in the last over of the chase

What they say...

“We are here for a long-term proposition and we want to be the most entertaining and engaging franchise of the IPL. All this will take time and we are in no hurry; we will go about everything in a systematic matter.”

Arvinder Singh, COO Gujarat Titans

“Victory should be viewed as a bonus and CVC's approach will need to be around an intelligent sports management cocktail to help raise the value of the team over time. This is probably one of the most professionally run teams, primarily driven by its ownership by CVC.

Balu Nayar, former IMG MD and one of the IPL’s key architects, on the Titans' rise

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