India and hosts Nepal shared the honours 1-1- in the first of the international friendlies at Dasharath Stadium in Kathmandu on Thursday.
Nepal took lead when Anjan Bista struck in the 36th minute of the first half when he capitalised on the miscommunication between India goalkeeper Gurpreet Singh Sandhu and defender Chinglensana Singh Konsham. After taking the lead, the hosts played with intent while Indians were playing shadows.
After resumption, India looked stronger and equalised in the 60th-minute after captain Sunil Chhetri shot from 25 yards could only be palmed into the six-yard box by by Nepal goalkeeper Kiran Lumbu and Anirudh Thapa latched on the chance and rattled the net even before Nepal defenders could clear.
In the dying minutes of the game, the hosts won a couple of chances to score and post a rare win but Indian defence without injured Sandesh Jhingan was equally to the task.
Nepal scorer Anjan, keeper Kiram and Suman Aryal all received a yellow card.
Anirudh and Sahal Abdul Samad played in the midfield while Seriton Fernandes and Rahim Ali made their senior India debuts.
The two sides meet again on Sunday (September 5) in the second international friendly at the same venue and will be streamed live on the Indian Football Team Facebook page (at 5.15 PM IST).
India XI: Gurpreet Singh Sandhu (GK); Rahul Bheke, Chinglensana Singh, Shubashish Bose, Akash Mishra (Seriton Fernandes 46′); Suresh Singh Wangjam (Lalengmawia 63′), Glan Martins (Rahim Ali 46′), Brandon Fernandes (Anirudh Thapa 46′); Liston Colaco (Sahal Abdul Samad 46′), Manvir Singh, Sunil Chhetri (C) (Bipin Singh 70′)
Nepal: Kiran Kumar Limbu, Deep Karki, Bishal Shrestha, Bikesh Kuthu, Ananta Tamang, Dinesh Rajbanshi, Gautam Shrestha, Rohit Chand, Suman Aryal, Rajan Gurung, Kamal Thapa, Ayush Ghalan, Bishal Rai, Nitin Thapa, Pujan Uperkoti, Santosh Tamang, Sujal Shrestha, Sunil Bal, Suraj Jeu Thakuri, Tej Tamang, Aashish Lama, Anjan Bista, Manish Dangi, Nawayug Shrestha, Suman Lama