'He's got 15-16 years ahead of him. He might miss this World Cup but he will play many more World Cups.'
The World Cup snub could surely be disappointing, but 21-year-old Rishabh Pant will play "many more World Cups" and don National colours for at least 15 years, says former India skipper Sourav Ganguly.
The 21-year-old Pant lost out to veteran Dinesh Karthik in the choice for second wicketkeeper in India’s World Cup squad.
"(Mahendra Singh) Dhoni will not play on forever. DK (Dinesh Karthik) will also not play on forever. Rishabh is the next best; Pant is the future absolutely," declared Ganguly, on the sidelines of the launch of Zee Bangla's Under-19 Football League.
"He's got 15-16 years ahead of him. I don't see it as a major blow. I don't think it's a problem. He might miss this World Cup but he will play many more World Cups. This is not the end of the road for him."
As a 'selector' Ganguly would have picked Pant in the side but, overall, he said India has a well-balanced team for the showpiece event, beginning May 30.
"Maybe I would have (picked Pant), but I think Dinesh Karthik is also very good. I think it's a good team, they picked themselves. I don't think many missed out. Rishabh would have been great but that's the way it goes."
Ganguly's pat on the back during tough times was something Pant needed and he got from one of India's greatest captains.
"Obviously, you tell him, he's just 21 years of age. You get upset for a couple of days and then you recover. I think Rishabh has been a better player outside Delhi than in Delhi because of the wickets. He enjoys fast wickets where the ball comes on to the bat," Ganguly said, talking about Pant's explosive knock in Jaipur.
A passionate Ganguly was seen chairing the youngster in celebration, something many fans related with his jersey-waving celebration at the Lord's balcony after winning the NatWest Trophy.
Ganguly also posted the picture on his official Twitter handle with a caption: "Rishabh pant @RishabPant777 @ParthJindal11 u deserve this.. u r wow."
"Old habits don't go, what to do? It means a lot because you get involved with teams to make them successful. When you win the happiness is there," he said.
Ganguly is also credited for Shikhar Dhawan's turnaround. The Delhi Capitals batsman is back among the runs with three half-centuries, including an unbeaten 97 against Kolkata Knight Riders in Kolkata, this Indian Premier League season.
"I can help him because he's a left-hander. During a tournament you can't talk much about skills; you just tell them how to bat in most situations. Dhawan's record in one-day cricket is as good as anybody in India. So the talent was always there. When he played for Sunrisers Hyderabad, he had a fantastic record. He's just a good player."
Delhi are currently second in the IPL table. Their success has come at a time when the Shah Rukh Khan-owned Kolkata Knight Riders have slipped to sixth from No. 2.
KKR suffered five defeats in a row, including against Delhi at the Eden Gardens, and the camp seemed divided, with the players practising in Mumbai and Kolkata.
Ganguly refused to comment on the development, but said KKR are more successful.
"KKR have won twice. We have not won even once. I don't think it's the right question."
On his role in the team, he said: "It's about giving tips on match situations. The most important thing in the IPL is to select the players. You don't get much time to develop a team so it's important to pick the right players. So, it's about picking the right players and finding a way to succeed."