A dominating India were held to a goalless draw by Nepal in an international friendly at the Balewadi Stadium here on Monday.
The Indians started the game on the front foot playing in front of the home crowd and created a number of chances, but poor finishing undid their efforts.
Pronoy Halder made his debut and much to everyone’s surprise, Indian coach Stephen Constantine played Dhanpal Ganesh as a central defender. Though usually seen as a central medio, Ganesh adapted to his new role and as the match progressed, partnered Sandesh Jhingan well.
Prior to the match, GPS systems were inserted into the jackets as Team India took the field wearing such trackers for the first time in the country’s football history.
The first half action was mostly concentrated in the Nepal half. The Indian back four almost played around the centre-line and quick interchanges, switching, transitions and one-twos keeping Nepal guessing.
The closest India came to scoring in the first 20 minutes was when Francis Fernandes hit the post off a Eugenson Lyngdoh corner rebound.
Lyngdoh proved once again why he is so highly rated as his overhead through ball in the 44th minute evaded the Nepal defence and stooped for the onrushing Sunil Chhetri who darted into the box, sent Nepal custodian Limbu Kiran the other way, but then placed the ball just wide.
After the breather, Indians stepped on the gas again, and in the 62nd minute, Robin Singh couldn’t make the most of a free header off a Jackichand Singh corner.
At the other end, Nepal had their chance too as substitute Sushil K.C. in the 69th minute was through on goal but his shot was just off target.
Limbu was at it again as he managed to keep out a Cavin Lobo pile driver but then had to scramble for a Chhetri long ranger which flew wide.
In the dying minutes of the game, Indian winger C.K. Vineeth came close to breaking the deadlock but Nawayung Shrestha came back to get rid of the ball.