New Delhi: Batting great Rahul Dravid has marked Rishabh Pant as a "very important player" for India in the near future, basing his prediction on the exemplary courage the youngster showed in overcoming a personal tragedy.
A couple of days before the start of Indian Premier League, the 19-year-old Pant lost his father, but still played in Delhi Daredevils' opening fixture.
He added: "Pant overcame that tragedy and did consistently well throughout the season. I am sure he will go on to become a very important player for India."
Dravid rued Delhi's inability to close out tight games. Daredevils finished sixth with six wins and seven defeats.
"It's disappointing obviously, had hoped to qualify at the start of the tournament but there were some close matches in the middle which we couldn't win.
"You need eight wins to qualify in this tournament, we got seven last year, six this year and I think the close games we lost probably cost us," Dravid said at the post-match press conference after his side's loss to Royal Challengers Bangalore.
The 44-year-old further added that the franchise backed some of the younger Indian players because they had lost a couple of key foreign stars and did not have the kind of experience that they would have liked to.
"I believe we had the squad and the players to make up for that. I think the team was really good, maybe a little bit inexperienced in the batting because of the injuries early on but I still think we had the ability and a lot of opportunities in a lot of games."
Dravid lamented missing out on the services of Quinton de Kock and JP Duminy.
"Unfortunately for us at the start of the season, after the auction, Quinton (de Kock) and JP (Duminy), who were probably our two experienced players, pulled out of the IPL because of injury and we had to look for replacements at the last minute and, which, I guess, isn't easy when most of the players are taken.
"So, to balance it out, we tried to go with a slightly more experienced bowling attack because we knew we had young Indian batsmen. I think there is a lot of talent but, maybe, sometimes you have to get the balance right. Maybe we didn't have a little bit of luck as well: injuries at the wrong time, maybe a couple of guys didn't kick on as well as we would have liked."