Displaying rusty defence, Indian men's hockey team played out a 1-1 draw against Japan to begin its four-match Test series on a disappointing note, in Bhubaneshwar on Sunday.
For India, drag-flicker V R Raghunath converted a penalty corner in the 44th minute to get even with their opponents after Japan drew first blood in the second quarter.
After a couple of unsuccessful penalty corner attempts by both the teams, Japan struck in the 19th minute. Japanese midfielder put a hard slap inside the D and striker Kurogawa Daichi quickly tucked it inside the bar as the visitors took lead.
Attacks and counter-attacks continued in the second and the third quarter as India finally broke even in the third quarter.
Gurbaj earned India penalty corner and Raghunath clinically converted it into a goal. Sardar Singh pushed the ball in hard and Raghunath dragged it on the left of the Japanese goalkeeper and the ball ticked a defender's stick en route to the net.
Paul Van Ass-coached side got another corner in the 52nd minute but Raghunath failed to get lucky this time around and the scoreline stayed static in the remaining minutes of play. Meanwhile Indian defender Kothajit Singh marked his 100th international appearance in this game.
Indian defender Birendra Lakra also played his 100th international match in the drawn game against Japan.
The 25-year old has been the backbone of the team and even been part of all important international tournaments since he made his debut during the test series against South Africa in 2012.
His outstanding performance over the last year resulted in he being adjudged the Player of the Year for 2014 at the first edition of Hockey India Annual Awards announced recently.
Congratulating him on the feat, Hockey India President Narinder Dhruv Batra said, "We congratulate Birendra on his achieving this landmark.
He has played a key role in the defence line-up since he started playing for India on the international arena. We wish him all the best for his future endeavours and hope he continues his good form in the times to come."