A goal on his return for Sunil Chhetri wasn't enough as the Indian national football team went down to Indian Super League club ATK Mohun Bagan in a practice match at the Salt Lake Stadium on Wednesday.
Chhetri gave India a brilliant start, but the Blue Tigers eventually gave up in the absence of their star defenders like Sandesh Jhingan and Pritam Kotal.
Jhingan was part of the ATK Mohun Bagan side and was brought on in the second half before he pulled out due to an injury 10 minutes after he took to the field of play.
ATK Mohun Bagan next take on Gokulam Kerala in their AFC Cup Group stage clash on May 18 and it remains to be seen if Jhingan will be fit in time to play that game.
For India, Chhetri started up front alongside VP Suhair with players like Jeakson Singh, Akash Mishra, Asish Rao, Udanta Singh and Anirudh Thapa in midfield to provide support.
ATK Mohun Bagan too played the first half with their best XI on paper but gave chances to youngsters after half-time.
This was the first of India's two friendly practice matches building up to June's Asian Cup qualifiers. Their second game is against I-League All Stars which is scheduled to be played on May 17.
The Blue Tigers will now fly to Doha to play two friendlies against Zambia (May 25) and Jordan (May 28) before taking on Cambodia on June 8 at the Salt Lake Stadium in Kolkata.