MS Dhoni © IANS
Ravichandran Ashwin (left) and MS Dhoni will continue their potent captain-bowler combination © IANS

The draft for Indian Premier League (IPL) 2016 took place on Tuesday. MS Dhoni, Ajinkya Rahane, Ravichandran Ashwin, Steven Smith, and Faf du Plessis will play for Team Pune, while Team Rajkot picked up Ravindra Jadeja, Suresh Raina, Brendon McCullum, James Faulkner, and Dwayne Bravo. Chennai Super Kings’ (CSK) close-knit clique was finally broken, with Dhoni and Raina as well as Ashwin and Jadeja going to opposing sides. Dhoni, Ashwin, and du Plessis will play alongside Rajasthan Royals (RR) stars Rahane and Smith for the first time, while CSK alumni Jadeja, Raina, McCullum, and Bravo will play alongside Faulkner. READ: MS Dhoni to play for Pune in IPL 2016

Pune have acquired Dhoni, Rahane, Ashwin, Smith and du Plessis. Pune got the first pick in the draft and chose to go for Dhoni as expected. In Dhoni they have a leader, wicketkeeper, and finisher who has tasted immense success in IPL and international cricket. Added to that is the brand value that comes with Dhoni; his mere presence is enough to attract sponsors and increase hype around the team so it makes sense even from a marketing viewpoint.

Then there is Rahane, currently hot property in India’s Test line-up. Though Rahane is yet to establish himself in ODIs, there is no doubting his potential in the shorter formats. He has tasted immense success even in IPL for RR, and was among the leading run-scorers of the tournament for the last few editions. In Rahane Pune have a solid opener who can score runs at a brisk pace and set up games at the top of the order.

Rahane will be backed up in the middle order by du Plessis and Smith: none of them is a renowned hitter, but both men are excellent batsmen across formats. Given Smith’s form in recent times he can be expected to continue scoring heavily. Dhoni also has a lot of faith in du Plessis, who played for CSK from 2012 to 2015. With three of the top four already settled and Dhoni to follow, the Pune batting looks good. READ: MS Dhoni, Ravichandran Ashwin, Ajinkya Rahane to play for Team Pune in IPL 2016

As for the bowling front, that they have only one name but it a big one; Ashwin has been phenomenal across formats over the last couple of years and was perhaps the best bowler to go up in the draft. Though he was the third player to be picked for Pune behind Dhoni and Rahane, he might just be their most valuable player.

On the whole, Pune seem to have a good set of core players. They probably lack a good all-rounder, but can always make up for that in the upcoming player auction in February 2016. They have an experienced batting line-up and Ashwin makes for a perfect T20 spinner. They have a lot to look forward to, come IPL 2016. READ: Suresh Raina, Ravindra Jadeja, Brendon McCullum among players picked by Rajkot franchise for IPL 2016

(Shiamak Unwalla, a reporter with CricketCountry, is a self-confessed Sci-Fi geek who loves cricket more than cricketers. His Twitter handle is @ShiamakUnwalla)