India only had a glancing Jackichand Singh-headed goal to show after keeping St Kitts pinned in its own half and goalkeeper Jeffers Jamal at their mercy till the 72nd minute of action at Mumbai Football Arena.
The visitors clawed back with an audacious tap into the roof by Amory Gvaune past Subrata Paul for the equaliser in the concluding Tri-Nation tie.
A win over Mauritius earlier in the three-nation event allowed the hosts to end up tops.
The home team had a first-half goal disallowed for off-side. Striker Robin Singh, one of five replacements for India found the crossbar blocking a tap in injury-time.
The 1-1 draw was a victory of sorts for the visitors from the Caribbeans, FIFA ranked 125 and clearly inferior and under pressure throughout.
India’s inability to convert domination into goals forced points split.
Robin, Jeje Lalpekhlua and Balwant Singh messed up chances, leaving the Jackichand strike as the only silver lining.
The hosts went ahead after a passing bout on the right flank, with overlapping wing back Pritam Kotal lifting the ball from the sideline towards teammates lurking around the box.
Jackichand looped the ball beyond the goalkeeper’s reach with a sideways header. St Kitts survived a scare after a chest trap and volley by Jeje, the goalkeeper pushed the ball away.
St Kitts’ willingness to chase the ball in their own half, hard tackling and closing down space denied India the room to build up moves in the midfield.
Balwant, included in the starting squad after a stellar show as substitute against Mauritius, got a clear look at goal but headed wide off a tantalizing floater from Holicharan.
Jeje was felled around the box, resulting in a free-kick. Eugeneson Lyngdoh tried an indirect route, the ball rolled to Narayan Das for a crack at target.
St Kitts custodian Jamal covered the angle for a block diving to his left. Balwant appeared at the right spot to tap in a pass back, the referee blew for off-side.
Jamal under the St Kitts bar was kept busy by Indian forwards, but survived attempts from Jeje, tapping wide on the run near the right post and then substitute Robin advancing alone and left-footed placement bouncing back into play off the goalkeeper’s body.
St Kitts ended up with two points from two draws (Mauritius and India).
The result: India 1 (Jackichand Singh 39) drew with St Kitts 1 (Amory Gvaune 72).