NCR Punjab Royals dictated terms on day four of the Pro Wrestling League season 2 by ekeing out a close 4-3 win over Mumbai Maharathi at the K D Jadhav Indoor Stadium on Thursday.
Mumbai had an early advantage as they won the toss and decided to block the 53kg women’s category, thus preventing the dangerous Odunayo Folasade Adekuoroye from contesting in the tie.
Punjab blocked the 74kg men’s category as Mumbai’s Jabrayil Hasanov has to sit out as well.
Cricketer Harbhajan Singh, co-owner of Mumbai Maharathi, turned up to support his team and added to the excitement to the evening.
The opening bout of the tie was won by NCR Punjab Royals as their captain Vladimir Khinchegashvili used all his experience to overcome a stiff challenge from Mumbai Maharathi’s Rahul Aware.
The Maharashtra grappler, who was riding on the burden of expectations after his brilliant victory over Haryana’s Sandeep Tomar in the opening game, employed several tactics to score points, but Vladimir, the 2016 Olympics gold medalist was the better opponent on the day, winning the bout 7-3.
Mumbai captain and 2016 Olympics gold medalist Erica Wiebe drew level with Punjab in the next bout, staging a remarkable comeback to defeat Vasilisa Marzaliuk 4-2.
In a bout that saw both blood and sweat drip, Erica, who got injured in the game, countered Vasilisa’s aggression using single leg tackles and effecting crucial takedowns to win the 75kg women’s division.
A highly engrossing bout followed this as Indian grapplers Pankaj Rana from Punjab and Pritam from Mumbai fought neck-and-neck in both the rounds.
In the first round, both wrestlers showed tremendous skill and control, even as Pankaj Rana finished on top. The second round saw a flurry of points as a cat-and mouse-game between the two grapplers ensued, even as the spectators were treated to superbly executed takedowns, leg tackles and ankle holds.