A gritty India thwarted a wave of Chinese onslaughts to play out a remarkable goal-less draw in an international football friendly played for the first time after 21 years between the two countries here Saturday.
In a keenly-watched match played between the two most populous countries in the world but still laggards in the global game, China clearly dominated the proceedings with several chances coming their way but they failed to get a goal.
Chinese forwards' goal drought continued while the Indians, especially the back-four of captain Sandesh Jhingan, Narayan Das, Pritam Kotal and Subhasish Bose, played their hearts out to held their nerves till the end.
The home side had at least three clear chances with two being denied by the woodwork while their star striker Gao Lin failed to find the target several times. Custodian Gurpreet Singh Sandhu stood like a rock in front of the Indian goal as he denied the home side at least on four occasions.
It was a remarkable achievement for India as they have drawn against a continental top side like China in their own den. India were playing on the Chinese soil for the first time and there were periods in the match, though few and far between, when the visitors threatened on the counters.
India had two very good chances on either side of the breather, one from Pritam Kotal and another from substitute Farukh Choudhary, and a couple of half chances.
But the visitors did not give an inch to the Chinese attackers who has played more than 100 international matches, for most part while goalie Gurpreet made a few fine saves.
In the seventh minute itself, the Indian goal was under threat but Jinghan made a timely clearance for a corner following Yu Dabao's shot.
The Indians grew in confidence as the match wore on and they even had a very good chance in the 13th minute when Sunil Chhetri passed the ball back to Pranoy Halder who went diagonal to Anirudh Thapa who, in turn, laid it for an onrushing Kotal.
Two minutes later, Gao had a free header from a corner but the ball went directly to Gurpreet's hands.
India got a free kick in the 17th minute and Thapa's delivery found an unmarked Chhetri making a first time shot but the ball sailed over.
Meanwhile, halfway through the first half, Gurpreet again pulled off a fine save as he blocked a low shot from Gao after a defensive mistake by the Indians.
As soon as the second half began, Gao rattled Gurpreet's crossbar in the 48th minute but a few minutes later Udanta Singh was set up by Holicharan Narzary but the Manipuri shot over the crossbar in a hurry.
The 71st minute also saw the Indian crossbar being rattled by a Wu Lei volley and it was pure luck for India as Gurpreet was completely beaten that time.
Five minutes later, Gurpreet again pulled off another fine save to deny a Xiao Zhi header from a corner.
Towards the end of the regulation time, there was a scramble near the Indian goal-line but the visiting side, who desperately threw their bodies towards the close of the match, survived as the match ended in a stalemate.
Before Saturday, India and China had played 17 times with the last one being in 1997 in Kochi. China had won 12 times while the remaining five were drawn matches.
(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)