IPL Draft: Dhoni goes to Pune and Raina to Rajkot

Dhoni's India teammate Suresh Raina was the first preference for the other new team Rajkot, which is owned by Intex Mobiles. He will also get an identical Rs 12.5 crore by virtue of being the first player selected by the franchise.

The Sanjeev Goenka-owned new franchise Pune picked MS Dhoni for Rs 12.5 crore.   -  K Murali Kumar

It’s official. Mahendra Singh Dhoni won't be wearing a Chennai Super Kings jersey in the Indian Premier League for the first time when he turns up for the new Pune franchise, owned by Sanjeev Goenka’s New Rising, for the next two editions of the Twenty20 league. 

Besides, it will also be the first time that Dhoni and Suresh Raina, the highest run-getter in IPL history, will play against each other as the left-handed power-hitter was grabbed by the Rajkot franchise, owned by Intex Technologies, as its marquee player during Tuesday’s player draft for the two new teams.

Both the teams opted to utilise the maximum cap of signing five players ahead of the player auction scheduled on February 6. The Pune franchise, which had the right to go first, picked Dhoni, Ajinkya Rahane, R. Ashwin, Steven Smith and Faf du Plessis.

Besides Raina, the Rajkot franchise added home boy Ravindra Jadeja, Brendon McCullum, James Faulkner and Dwayne Bravo to its roster.

This effectively means that of the 10 players who were assigned to the new teams, seven were from the Chennai Super Kings, while three erstwhile Rajasthan Royals players – Rahane, Smith and Faulkner – were picked on Tuesday at the Mumbai Cricket Association’s clubhouse at the Bandra Kurla Complex.

Dhoni, Raina likely to lead

While both the team owners stressed that they had not finalised the captain, it is understood that Dhoni and Raina will soon be unveiled as skipper of their respective franchises.  

Subrata Talukdar, New Rising representative, stated that they had planned the draft strategy with Dhoni being the nucleus. “Frankly speaking, we were targeting eight players in order of priority, and it worked in this draft and we have got players according to our plan,” Talukdar told reporters after the draft, which barely lasted 15 Intex director Keshav Bansal explained the rationale behind opting for big-hitting batsmen.

“Rajkot is a high-scoring pitch and if you talk about the IPL it is a high-scoring game. So the idea is to have really aggressive batsmen but at the same time you need to have strong bowlers as well,” he said.

Price catch

With both the teams opting to sign five players each on Tuesday, they have exhausted Rs 39 crore of its total purse of Rs 66 crore. However, despite the denominations attached to each of the five players signed, the players’ payment would remain the same as their signing fees with the Super Kings or Royals last year.

For instance, Dhoni and Raina, having been signed upfront by both the teams, were valued at Rs 12.5 crore each for the draft. However, their actual fees, kept under the wraps since both were among the retained players by the Super Kings, will continue to be the same as last year.

While IPL chairman appeared confused while addressing the media, after consulting Prof Ratnakar Shetty, the BCCI general manager – game development – who has been handed the additional charge of the IPL as well, Shukla clarified that the actual fees of players will continue to be the same, irrespective of the auction purse tag.

The actual fees of all the ten players signed on Tuesday are likely to be revealed on the BCCI website over the next week.

Teams Pune's picks: Mahendra Singh Dhoni, Ajinkya Rahane, R Ashwin, Steve Smith, Faf du Plessis.

Team Rajkot's picks: Suresh Raina, R Jadeja, Brendon McCullum, James Faulkner, Dwayne Bravo.