Gurgaon: Haryana Hammers outmuscled Bengaluru Yodhas 4-3 in front of their home crowd to register their second consecutive victory in the inaugural edition of the Pro Wrestling League (PWL) here on Wednesday.
The highlight of the match-up was the battle between 2012 London Olympics bronze medallist Yogeshwar Dutt and his protege Bajrang Punia in the men’s 65kg category.
Bajrang matched his senior counterpart in technique and physical strength for most of the bout but Yogeshwar clinched a 3-2 victory in the closing stages.
This was Haryana’s second win in the tournament. They had defeated Dilli Veers 5-2 in their first match.
Billed as one of the title contenders, Bengaluru lost their second match in a row. They had defeated Uttar Pradesh Warriors in their opening match before losing to the Mumbai Garudas.
The contest was off to a thrilling start as Haryana’s Nitin Rathee defeated Bengaluru’s Sandeep Tomar 9-8 in a bitterly fought encounter in the men’s 57kg category.
Tomar was leading 1-0 at the end of the first round. But Nitin made a superb comeback in the second round to pick up seven points on the trot.
A desperate Tomar went on the attack in his quest for victory, but Nitin did just enough to hold on to his lead.
Tatiana Kit increased Haryana’s lead by outclassing Lalita Sherawat of Bengaluru by fall in the women’s 53kg category.
The Ukrainian was leading 4-0 at the break. She picked up another two points in the second round before pinning Lalita to the mat with more than a minute still to go.
Pavlo Olinik reduced Haryana’s lead by overpowering Yuri Maier by technical superiority (10-0) in the men’s 97kg division. The former European champion from Ukraine dominated his Argentine opponent right from the start and wrapped up the bout in the first half.
Geetika Jakhar put the Hammers firmly in the driver’s seat by edging out Navjot Kaur Bengaluru in the women’s 69kg event. Although the duo were locked 3-3 at the end of the bout, Geetika was adjudged the winner as she was the last to score.
Geetika took a 1-0 lead in the first round before Navjot levelled matters immediately after the re-start. She picked up a couple of points more, but Geetika came up with a superb move in the dying seconds to clinch victory.
Yogeshwar handed the Hammers an unassailable 4-2 lead by defeating a gallant Bajrang Punia 3-2 in the men’s 65kg class. Billed as a clash between master and protege, the bout fully lived up to expectations and kept the huge crowd rooted to the edge of their seats till the end.
There was very little to differentiate the two in the early stages. Both wrestlers were equally matched in terms of technique. Both seemed a bit cagey, trying to assess each other’s strategy, although Yogeshwar took a 1-0 lead as Bajrang was adjudged to be too defensive by the referee.
The bout burst into life in the second round as Bajrang clinched a couple of points to surge into the lead. The youngster held the more experienced Yogeshwar at bay for most of the round. But the Olympic bronze medallist made good use of his superior experience to claim victory right at the end.
Both Yogeshwar and Bajrang were in an emotional mood after the bout.
“It was an emotional bout. Both of did not want to fight each other and none of us wanted to win. Both us were extremely emotional today and we could not produce our best performance,” Yogeshwar said after the bout.
“He (Yogeshwar) has been by guide since I was a child and I learnt a lot from today’s bout,” Bajrang said.
Yulia Ratkevich kept Bengaluru in the hunt by defeating Oksana Herhel by technical superiority by technical superiority (11-0) in the women’s 58kg event.
The last bout of the day was another exciting clash between Bengaluru’s icon player and captain Narsingh Yadav and Haryana’s Levan Lopez in the men’s 74kg category.
It was a see-saw encounter between two of the most talented wrestlers in the tournament but Narsingh’s grit and superior physical strength saw him clinch a 8-5 verdict seconds before the end.
Narsingh displayed excellent strength and technique to take a 3-0 lead over the Olympic bronze medallist from Cuba in the first round.
But the Cuban came up with a superb move to bring down Narsingh to take four points and take a 5-4 lead.
But Narsingh unleashed the Fitley move in the very last minute to clinch a well deserved victory.