MS Dhoni continues as captain © IANS
MS Dhoni continues to captain the side © IANS

Rising Pune Supergiants (RPS) backed up their smart picks in the pre-auction player drafts by selecting a well-balanced side for Indian Premier League (IPL) 2016. The Supergiants, which selected a lot of players from Chennai Super Kings (CSK) for IPL 9, have a team that will be tough to beat in any conditions. Led by MS Dhoni, RPS also has other CSK alumni in Ravichandran Ashwin, Faf du Plessis, Irfan Pathan, Ishwar Pandey, Thisara Perera (though he last played for KXIP), and Baba Aparajith. RPS will look to draw on the experience of their senior members. READ: IPL 2016 Auction Updates & Blog: Teams finalised for IPL 9

Batting: RPS have a solid batting line-up with the likes of Ajinkya Rahane, Kevin Pietersen, du Plessis, Steven Smith, Dhoni, and Mitchell Marsh in the side. Rahane and du Plessis will provide solidity at the top of the order, while Pietersen, Smith, Dhoni, and Marsh will be the middle-order firepower. There are also young Indian players like Ankush Bains and Baba Aparajith who could be given a chance in the middle order. Then there is the ever-reliable Rajat Bhatia, who is just the sort of man Dhoni likes to have in his line-up. Irfan and Perera are another couple of explosive options down the order. Rising Pune Supergiants in IPL 2016 Auction Updates: Full list of players bought by RPS for IPL 9

Bowling: Ashwin and Ishant Sharma lead the RPS bowling, with a number of other bowlers to offer the team some depth. Irfan, Marsh, Pandey, RP Singh, Scott Boland, Ashok Dinda, Jaskaran Singh, Ankit Sharma, and Deepak Chahar are the pace bowlers, with Zampa and the unheralded but suddenly in-demand M Ashwin being leg-spin options. Bhatia is in a league of his own; neither pacer nor spinner but always good for a couple of quiet overs. READ: Rising Pune Supergiants (RPS) in IPL 2016: Know your team

Key players: RPS have some huge names in Dhoni, Pietersen, Ashwin, Smith, du Plessis, and Rahane. In Dhoni they have one of the most experienced leaders in world cricket, while Pietersen is in the form of his life and will be available for the full series.

Players to watch out for: Murugan Ashwin is a complete unknown, but the way he was being bid for it is clear that the franchises know something we do not. The leg-spinner is touted to be a leg-spinner of considerable skill, and he will be a ace in RPS’ hole.

Rising Pune Supergiants (RPS) full squad for IPL 2016: MS Dhoni (c), Ajinkya Rahane, Kevin Pietersen, Faf du Plessis, R Ashwin, Irfan Pathan, Ishant Sharma, Ishwar Pandey, Jaskaran Singh, Steven Smith, M Ashwin, Mitchell Marsh, Peter Handscomb, Rajat Bhatia, RP Singh, Scott Boland, Adam Zampa, Thisara Perera, Ankit Sharma, Ankush Bains, Ashok Dinda, Baba Aparajith, Deepak Chahar.

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