With only ten options in the IPL Player draft – five for each team – the players who would be picked was always going to be Team India players and some of the big names – and there were quite a few of them – from the international circuit.
MS Dhoni was always (c'mon, did anybody really doubt it?) going to be the first pick, and with that first pick going to Pune, owing to theirs being the best offer to the BCCI in the reverse bidding process, the India ODI and T20 captain will ply his trade for the next two seasons of the IPL in Pune.
Fans from that city will be delighted to see the bonafide India superstar do what he does best – win games in the IPL and take his team to the playoffs, at least.
Joining Dhoni in Team Pune are his fellow CSK teammates R Ashwin and Faf Du Plessis. Ashwin, while not being quite as effective in the T20 format as he is in Test matches at home, is a wonderful option to have with the ball – and Dhoni loves his spinners – with Du Plessis bringing that solidity in the batting lineup, be that up top or in the middle, depending on the situation.
The Pune franchise also picked up a couple of players from the Rajasthan Royals, and superstars at that in Ajinkya Rahane and Steve Smith. Rahane has scored bucketloads of runs for the Royals at the top of the order, and there is nothing stopping the right-hander from doing it again in a different team.
Smith, as all India fans will know, is a run-machine, capable of the solid and spectacular in equal measure. His captaincy skills will also come in handy, even if Dhoni will be the undisputed leader, while he will be familiar with the confines, having previously played for the Pune Warriors India in the IPL.
The Rajkot team have also made a few interesting choices, but the most explosive of those has to be the signing – revealed only on IPL's Twitter feed, with no video coverage, unfortunately, of the draft -- of the most dangerous batsman in T20 cricket – Brendon McCullum.
Pune would have been tempted to go for McCullum ahead of one of the Indian players (not named Dhoni), but the fans from Rajkot will now have the pleasure of attempting a few catches in the stands when those sixes rain down from McCullum's willow.
McCullum was only the third pick in Rajkot's draft, though. The first two were Suresh Raina – he will feel strange playing against Dhoni, having never done that before in the IPL – and Ravindra Jadeja, the hometown boy who plays his Ranji Trophy cricket for Saurashtra.
Along with those three wonderful players, Rakjot can also call on the services of two of the best all-rounders in the IPL – James Faulkner and Dwayne Bravo. Faulkner has the ability to finish games off with the bat and ball, and while Bravo's batting powers might have waned a little of late, the West Indian showed his death bowling prowess in the IPL last season.
IPL Player draft: Pune: MS Dhoni (Rs 12.5 crore), Ajinkya Rahane (Rs 9.5 crore), R Ashwin (Rs 7.5 crore), Steven Smith (Rs 5.5 crore), Faf du Plessis (Rs 4 crore).
Rajkot: Suresh Raina (Rs 12.5 crore), Ravindra Jadeja (Rs 9.5 crore), Brendon McCullum (Rs 7.5 crore), James Faulkner (Rs 5.5 crore), Dwayne Bravo (Rs 4 crore).
Note: The players who were not picked in the IPL Draft will go into the IPL 2016 Auction list. The IPL Auction will be held on 6 February in Bengaluru.