MS Dhoni
MS Dhoni will captain the Rising Pune Supergiants in the 2016 edition of the Indian Premier LeagueGetty

Overview: One of the two new franchisees in this year's Indian Premier League, the Rising Pune Supergiants perhaps won half their battle by appointing MS Dhoni as skipper of the side. Dhoni, who is currently one of the most influential sportspersons in the world, leads a side that has shades of the now suspended Chennai Super Kings.

In Faf du Plessis, Steve Smith, Mitchell Marsh and Kevin Pietersen, Pune have a foreign contingent that is as good as anyone on their day and capable of winning matches on their own.

The bowling rests on the shoulders of Ishant Sharma and R Ashwin and it is here the Supergiants look a little weak on paper. Expect Dhoni to turn to his spinners to stem the tide of runs and build pressure.

Coach: Stephen Fleming

Key player: Kevin Pietersen: One of the most talented batsmen ever to play for England, Kevin Pietersen comes into the Indian Premier League 2016 on the back of brilliant form. The right-hander has scored 724 runs from a combined 16 games in the Ram Slam and Big Bash League at an average of 55.69 and a strike rate of 166.43.

Pietersen has not always looked comfortable in the IPL, but with Dhoni leading him and already claiming that he knows he will fire, it should be an exciting time all-round.

Fixtures

Match 1: Mumbai Indians vs Rising Pune Supergiants

Date and Time: 9 April – 3.30pm BST/8pm IST

Venue: Wankhede Stadium, Mumbai

Match 2: Gujarat Lions vs Rising Pune Supergiants

Date and Time: 14 April – 3.30pm BST/8pm IST

Venue: Saurashtra Cricket Association Stadium, Rajkot

Match 3: Kings XI Punjab vs Rising Pune Supergiants

Date and Time: 17 April – 11.30am BST/4pm IST

Venue: Punjab Cricket Association IS Bindra Stadium, Chandigarh

Match 4: Rising Pune Supergiants vs Royal Challengers Bangalore

Date and Time: 22 April – 3.30pm BST/8pm IST

Venue: Maharashtra Cricket Association Stadium, Pune

Match 5: Rising Pune Supergiants vs Kolkata Knight Riders

Date and Time: 24 April – 3.30pm BST/8pm IST

Venue: Maharashtra Cricket Association Stadium, Pune

Match 6: Sunrisers Hyderabad vs Rising Pune Supergiants

Date and Time: 26 April – 3.30pm BST/8pm IST

Venue: Rajiv Gandhi International Stadium, Hyderabad

Match 7: Rising Pune Supergiants vs Gujarat Lions

Date and Time: 29 April – 3.30pm BST/8pm IST

Venue: Maharashtra Cricket Association Stadium, Pune

Match 8: Rising Pune Supergiants vs Mumbai Indians

Date and Time: 1 May – 3.30pm BST/8pm IST

Venue: Maharashtra Cricket Association Stadium, Pune

Match 9: Delhi Daredevils vs Rising Pune Supergiants

Date and Time: 5 May – 3.30pm BST/8pm IST

Venue: Feroz Shah Kotla, New Delhi

Match 10: Royal Challengers Bangalore vs Rising Pune Supergiants

Date and Time: 7 May – 3.30pm BST/8pm IST

Venue: M Chinnaswamy Stadium, Bangalore

Match 11: Rising Pune Supergiants vs Sunrisers Hyderabad

Date and Time: 10 May – 3.30pm BST/8pm IST

Venue: Maharashtra Cricket Association Stadium, Pune

Match 12: Kolkata Knight Riders vs Rising Pune Supergiants

Date and Time: 14 May – 3.30pm BST/8pm IST

Venue: Eden Gardens, Kolkata

Match 12: Rising Pune Supergiants vs Delhi Daredevils

Date and Time: 17 May – 3.30pm BST/8pm IST

Venue: Maharashtra Cricket Association Stadium, Pune

Match 13: Rising Pune Supergiants vs Kings XI Punjab

Date and Time: 21 May – 11.30pm BST/4pm IST

Venue: Maharashtra Cricket Association Stadium, Pune

IPL History: This is the franchise's first season.

Squad: MS Dhoni (c&wk), Ajinkya Rahane, Ravichandran Ashwin, Steve Smith, Faf du Plessis, Kevin Pietersen, Albie Morkel, Ishant Sharma, Irfan Pathan, Mitchell Marsh, RP Singh, Ishan Kishan, Ankit Sharma, Ishwar Pandey, M Ashwin, Peter Handscomb, Thisara Perera, Baba Aparajith, Ashok Dinda, Jaskaran Singh, Adam Zampa, Scott Boland, Deepak Chahar, Ankush Bains.

Prediction: It's very tough to predict which team will qualify for the knockouts over such a long tournament. But if Rising Pune Supergiants are to impress, their batting will need to come good and their bowlers find form at the earliest.