Kozhikode | I-League side Sreenidi Deccan held ISL heavyweights Bengaluru FC to a 1-1 stalemate to begin their campaign in the Super Cup by sharing points here on Saturday.
First-half goals from Javi Hernandez (9th minute) and Faysal Shayesteh (21') saw the spoils being shared at the end of what was a closely-fought match in humid conditions.
Earlier, Blues' head coach Simon Grayson named a starting XI featuring Gurpreet Singh Sandhu in goal and a back three comprising Sandesh Jhingan, Parag Shrivas and Bruno Ramires.
Javi, who was the top scorer for Bengaluru in the 2022-23 Indian Super League, manned the midfield along with Rohit Kumar and Suresh Wangjam as the duo of Sunil Chhetri and Roy Krishna led the forward line for the home side.
Bengaluru dominated the early exchanges and didn't take long to open the scoring, with Javi finding himself on the scoresheet.
The Spaniard saw his initial shot from the edge of the box saved by Deccan 'keeper Aryan, and the shot-stopper then parried an attempt on the rebound by Roy Krishna before running out of luck when Javi was on point to smash home.
Carlos Vaz Pinto's side equalized just over 10 minutes later through Shayesteh. The Afghan international picked a pass from Rilwan Hassan in the box and cut in from the left before unleashing a shot that deflected off Parag Shrivas and into the back of the net past Gurpreet.
The game continued to flow at a brisk tempo with both sides packed with intent to attack and score.
Naorem Roshan Singh and Rosenberg Gabriel were involved in an intense battle on the wings, as the two proved influential to the attacking fortunes of their respective outfits. The defensive units of both teams were kept busy in an entertaining first 45 minutes.
Bengaluru started the second period in the same vein as the first, creating more chances and carrying the threat to the opposition. But Sreenidi Deccan came knocking on the Blues' door in the 56th minute when Gabriel's cross from the right narrowly evaded Arijit Bogui's head with the winger bearing down on Gurpreet's goal.
Chances were few and far between despite the efforts of the two teams as heat and fatigue took a toll at the EMS Stadium.
Bengaluru came close to taking the lead from a late opportunity that fell to Chhetri. Roshan's cross found the skipper at the far post, but Chhetri didn't get enough purchase on the header.