India held by China in Azlan Shah opener

Ipoh: Ravi Pal Singh`s last minute
equaliser saved India`s blushes as the defending champions
eked out a 1-1 draw with China in their first match of the
Sultan Azlan Shah Cup hockey tournament here on Thursday.

China went ahead in the 13th minute through Sun Tianjun
and India, after squandering chances galore, equalised at the
fag end of the tie when Ravi Pal Singh scored from a goalmouth

India went all out for an early lead and mounted attacks
before their rivals could settle down.

Winger Mandeep Antil sent a crisp cross into the striking
circle but Danish Mujtaba erred and soon Tushar Khandker cut
in from the left flank to set up Shivendra Singh whose push
missed the mark.

China gradually started asserting their supremacy with
regular onslaughts as their swift ball rotation had the Indian
defence in disarray and it was left to the versatile Sardar
Singh to blunt the Chinese moves.

India nearly conceded the lead in the 11th minute but
goalkeeper Sreejesh brought off a good save from a turnover.

China finally opened account two minutes later when Sun
Tianjun deflected home from a Meng Jun reverse.

The Chinese players had the Indian midfield on a tight
leash and forwards Sarvanjit Singh and Shivendra Singh were
often caught napping.

There seemed to be no sharpness and rhythm in the Indian
game as they exhibited an unimaginative display which was
largely devoid of forays from the left.

To their credit, India earned five penalty corners but
the flicks and variations were not good for the equaliser.

India did put up a fightback but only in patches in the
second half. Again it was a mess up in the circle with Danish,
Shivendra, Antil and skipper Rajpal Singh fumbling a lot.

The equaliser eventually came eleven seconds from the
final whistle as the Indians, in an all out effort to salvage
pride, succeeded in putting the ball past China goalkeeper Su
Rifeng from a melee with midfielder Ravi Pal getting the last

India will now play Pakistan in their next match on

In an earlier match, South Korea whipped Egypt 6-0.