India drew 0-0 with China at the International Stadium in Suzhou on Saturday, as Stephen Constantine’s men held Marcelo Lippi’s side, ranked 21 places above them, away from home.
The Blue Tigers went with a 4-2-3-1 formation as Constantine largely stuck to his Intercontinental Cup line-up. The biggest surprise was Narayan Das starting at left-back as Subhasish Bose was shifted to the heart of defence alongside captain for the night, Sandesh Jhingan. Sunil Chhetri and Jeje Lalpekhlua started up front for the Indians.
China started strong, attacking from the first whistle but it was Pritam Kotal who almost drew first blood for team India. On the overlap, Kotal shot from the right and the Chinese goalkeeper got low to keep it out.
The hosts also had a golden chance of their own, but Gurpreet was equal to it, getting low and saving well. India held on for the rest of the half as Lippi looked unhappy with his attack.
In the second half, China came out strongly as India faced a barrage of attacks in the first 20 minutes. Gao Lin had a golden chance as the ball was crossed into him on the edge of the box. The Chinese forward had a lot of time, but he could only hit the post.
China hit the frame of the goal once again, as Wu Lei had a shot which hit the crossbar with Gurpreet beaten. For India, Udanta Singh had another chance as Halicharan Narzary had a strong tackle and he recovered it, only to pass to the winger but the Bengaluru man had a terrible finish. In the stoppage time, Fraukh Chaudhary had a chance to complete a smash-and-grab but his snatched effort was palmed wide by the Chinese goalkeeper.
China had one final chance down the right in the 95th minute but the Indian defence, like they had for the duration of the night, held on to their clean sheet.
This was India’s first draw against China away from home.