Panther had put South Africa ahead in the ninth minute while McDade made it 2-0 in the 17th minute. Forward Mujtaba pulled one back in the 16th minute and India trailed 1-2 at the interval.
In the second half, India made the first strike in the 47th minute when a penalty-corner conversion by drag-flicker Sandeep Singh levelled the scores. Norris-Jones again put South Africa in front in the 50th minute. Seven minutes later, Uthappa made it 3-3 but the Africans had the last laugh when Reid Ross scored the decisive goal in the 61st minute. India received a much-needed practice on the blue turf in its last four matches against Spain and South Africa. This year, the games at the Olympics will be played on the blue turf.
India is slated to play Great Britain in the first of the triangular series in Santander on Saturday. Spain is the third team in the fray.