India made a smart recovery from an early goal deficit to hold New Zealand to a 1-1 draw in their first Test of the four-match hockey series at the National Stadium in Wellington on Saturday.
The visitors were jolted by a third minute goal through New Zealand captain Phil Burrows but their smart change of tactics in the second session yielded the equaliser in the 55th minute through SV Sunil.
The Kiwis, who lost both their matches to India in the Punjab Gold Cup in Chandigarh earlier this month, dominated the first half and went into the breather 1-0 up.
However, India changed tactics in the second session by switching to short passing build-up instead of hard hitting into the circle.
This caught up the Black Sticks unawares and, coupled with some solid defending by the Indians, the home side were forced to commit mistakes.
India missed three chances for the equaliser as forwards Rajpal Singh, SV Sunil and Shivendra Singh were off target.
However, Sunil made amends 15 minutes from the final hooter and slotted home from close range past goalkeeper Stephen Graham after a set up by Arjun Halappa.
India started brightly in the opening session forcing a penalty corner in the first minute when New Zealand defender Richard Petherick committed a foul inside the circle. Captain Sandeep Singh's flick was well saved by Graham to his low right.
The Black Sticks took control of the game thereafter with well orchestrated midfield forays.
Their 28-year-old home town skipper Burrows, playing his 212th international, was the beneficiary of good work done by fellow striker Simon Child as he scored from the right to break into the lead.
India were, however, a transformed side in the second half and veteran Dilip Tirkey formed the backbone of their defence. His measured interceptions denied the opponents much headway in this session.
he second Test will be played on Sunday.