Zaki has been in impressive form since moving to Wigan this summer
Determined Wigan earned a deserved draw against Sunderland after Amr Zaki's late equaliser cancelled out Titus Bramble's early own goal.
At a rowdy JJB Stadium, Bramble inadvertently nodded home from a Steed Malbranque cross in the 15th minute.
But Wigan stayed calm to push forward and continually test Sunderland keeper Craig Gordon in an end-to-end game.
They got their reward on 77 minutes when Zaki rammed Maynor Figueroa's awkward cross in from 10 yards.
Coming into the match, Sunderland boss Roy Keane made four changes to the side which lost to Manchester City in their last match with former West Ham pair Anton Ferdinand and George McCartney handed debuts in defence.
Wigan manager Steve Bruce decided not to tinker on the back of their 5-0 win over Hull at the KC Stadium, their biggest away league victory in 17 years.
Keane satisfied with Wigan point
Both sides set about the match at some pace as they sought to really get their respective seasons going after a long international break.
But Wigan paid the price for leaving Sunderland creator Malbranque in space on the left after 15 minutes.
The former Fulham man had plenty of time to whip in a dangerous inswinging cross which Bramble could only divert into his own goal, as the ball skidded off his forehead past Wigan keeper Chris Kirkland.
Determined to be positive, Wigan threw men forward in search of a quick response but Sunderland looked threatening on the break as they sought to utilise the space.
Kieron Richardson snatched at a chance when he had room to work a shot on goal from 20 yards out.
At the other end, Luis Valencia also miscued when dragging his shot back into a posse of players after it fell to his feet following a frantic goalmouth scramble.
Egyptian striker Zaki fought hard to create openings using his physical presence.
But it was Sunderland's Djibril Cisse who managed to create a breakaway opening of his own, racing away from Wigan's back-line after 38 minutes but flashing his low shot past Kirkland and the post from a tight angle.
The open, end-to-end nature of the game continued after half-time and Lee Cattermole was soon booked for a reckless lunge on Nyron Nosworthy.
Wigan's Emerson Boyce looped a header just over from a Jason Koumas corner but Sunderland could have gone two up when, one-on-one, Cisse smashed the ball hard and low after being put clear by Malbranque only to be denied by an outstanding save from Kirkland.
Gordon made a superb save of his own minutes later as he managed to push the ball round the post from a powerful, long-range Olivier Kapo shot.
But Wigan kept chipping away, with Zaki's header from Koumas' cross just shaving the wrong side of the post.
Bruce pleased with Wigan development
And they finally made the breakthrough after 77 minutes when Maynor Figueroa broke down the left to put a low cross into a crowded area which, with Sunderland failing to clear despite numerous opportunies, Zaki slammed home from six yards with his left foot.
Cattermole got his second yellow card and was sent off for a foul on Teemu Tainio five minutes from time and, as both sides pushed forward for a late winner, substitute Daryl Murphy failed to get enough on a header from six yards out.
Wigan boss Steve Bruce: "It was always going to be difficult and maybe I should have made changes to freshen them up [after the international break].
"I was very pleased that we have got away with getting a point. We found it a struggle to start with, a lot of people were fatigued.
"Look at Amr Zaki's record and he always scores a goal. I hope it continues. If it does, we have unearthed another real player."
Sunderland manager Roy Keane: "It was a fair result. If we got the second goal it's game over, but Wigan put us under pressure the last 25 minutes.
"The players all worked extremely hard. We know we have got to be a bit patient with the new players. But the signs were good today.
"I'm delighted with the group of players I have at this football club and its now my job to gel them together over the coming months."
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