Indian Seniors warded off a late charge by Indian Development team for a 2-1 victory in their opening encounter of the Independence Cup Hockey tournament at the Mayor Radhakrishnan Stadium in Chennai on Saturday.
In the other match on the inaugural day of the four-team tournament, which would form the basis for selection of the national squads for the coming SAF Games and the World Cup, hosts Tamil Nadu defeated U-18 Juniors 4-2.
Sandeep Singh and Gagan Ajit Singh scored for the seniors while Ragunath for the development side.
In the first match, Muthukumar, Jegan Sendhil, Gopinath and Venkatesan were the goal scorers and Bikramjit Singh produced a brace, both in the early second half.
In a keenly fought match, the seniors, coached by Olympian V Baskaran, shot into lead through a penalty corner conversion by Sandeep Singh in the 17th minute and held the advantage till the 51st minute.
But the Development team, groomed for the SAF Games in Sri Lanka next month under Clarence Lobo and Mohd. Riaz, launched an all-out offensive after the break and scored the equaliser through Ragunath in the 51st minute off a penalty corner.
The seniors, captained by Dilip Tirkey, struck back four minutes later when Umpire Md Muneer awarded a penalty stroke for an obstruction by Development Goalkeeper Srejesh. Star striker Gagan Ajit Singh converted it.
Ten minutes later Development team suffered a set back when Vikram Kanth was sent off by Muneer after a yellow card.
Indian Development v Indian U-18 Junior
Tamil Nadu v Indian Seniors.