The Indian hockey team started its Azlan Shah campaign on a disappointing note, conceding a last-gasp goal to settle for a 2-2 draw against tournament debutantes Egypt in Ipoh, Malaysia, on Sunday.
The Indians, who were runners-up last year, scored through Sandeep Singh (14th minute) and Shivender Singh (50th), while Mohamed Hasan (8th) and Amr El Saied (70th) sounded the board for the Egyptians.
Saied's goal came just 40 seconds before the hooter went off.
Disappointed with the result, India's coach Harendra Singh said he has no words to explain the team's poor show.
"You do not expect to win matches with this kind of performance. I do not have any answers now but we will evaluate the performances later when we get back to the hotel," Harendra said after the match.
In a match played on a soggy pitch following a heavy downpour, the Egyptians, who were playing in Ipoh for the first time, took the lead in the eighth minute when Hasan converted a penalty-corner.
India went on the offensive and equalised in the 15th minute in a similar fashion through their penalty-corner specialist Sandeep.
The Indians kept attacking but poor finishing meant that scoreline read 1-1 at half-time.
The Indians finally took the lead in the 50th minute through another penalty-corner, converted by Shivender.
Undeterred, the Egyptians kept up the pressure on India before snatching a 70th-minute goal through a penalty-corner by Saied.
"You would expect one or two players to be off-form but not the team to play at this level. It is a worry for me that we came off second best today and letting victory slip through over fingers with 40 seconds on the clock," said Harendra.
In the second match host Malaysia shocked Pakistan 3-2 to win their opening match.
Egyptian coach Jerzy Wybieralski was expectedly thrilled at having held the Asian champions.
"It is good result for Egypt and I think this is the first time in history we have managed it. There is no question that there was an element of luck in the draw but you need that at this level," he said.