India were crushed 1-4 by Romania in the Davis Cup play-off tie but coach Nandan Bal asserts that the team did not come back empty handed as it has found a future star in Somdev Devvarman.
Somdev, who is currently playing an ATP Challenger tournament in Romania, had squandered a winnable position in his second singles against Victor Crivoi but did trouble the higher-ranked player and impressed with his game.
"In Somdev we have found a player who is hard working and keen learner. He is very good. Let him play 2-3 more Davis Cup ties and you will see him producing results," Bal said.
"He just lacked experience (in the dead rubber) to put away the rubber. But he is ready to learn and I am sure he will win many ties for India in future."
Speaking about the second reverse singles, which Somdev lost after leading 5-4 in the second set, Bal said Crivoi curbed his unforced errors amazingly and clinched victory from the jaws of defeat.
"Apart from a double fault, Somdev also committed a foot fault. This is something he has to learn. He suddenly held back. Crivoi on the other hand played an aggressive game. The guy did not make any mistake.
"Somdev started playing safe.... ultra-defense.. in hope that Crivoi will make some mistakes but the Romania player did not give Somdev any such chance. He raised his game."
The former Davis Cup player strongly emphasised that Indians need to improve their game on clay courts as India holds a poor record on the surface.
"We have put them (Indian players) on clay. And there are two ways to that. One is to send them to Europe for two-three months in a year. Let them play and learn there.
"Secondly, if we can import synthetic courts, we can import clay courts also. Put down 5-6 courts here and let our players practice better."
Bal heaped praise on Romanian number one player Victor Hanescu, who pummelled both Somdev and Prakash in the tie.
"Hanescu was out of reach. There was no doubt about his superiority. The number two player (Crivoi) was okay and to target him was the key. Prakash played well in the second set against him but then he got tired.
"He (Prakash) is a player who prefers grass and he lacked experience on clay."
Like Team captain SP Misra, Bal also dismissed reports that it was due to the acrimony among the players he and former skipper Leander Paes missed Prakash's match.
"There was a plan. I was there when Prakash warmed up and it was my duty to accompany Somdev when he warmed up with Leander. It was my job to be with him.
"And as soon as we finished the practice we came back to see how Prakash's match has progressed. We could not get noticed as we actually sat near the practice court stands. There was no problem at all," he insisted.