Haryana Hammers started their campaign on a winning note by defeating Dilli Veers 5-2 in a Pro Wrestling League (PWL) contest at the KD Jadhav Wrestling Stadium here on Saturday.
Boasting the likes of Olympic bronze medallist Yogeshwar Dutt (65kg) and reigning world champion and current World No.1 Oksana Herhel (women’s 58kg) in their ranks, Hammers dominated their opponents right from the start although the Dilli Veers did put up a strong fight in some of the bouts.
The contest marked Yogeshwar’s return to competitive wrestling after a long hiatus. The star grappler seemed to struggle with his fitness in the second round, but still managed to win his bout.
Olympic bronze medallist Livan Lopez of Cuba gave Haryana the early lead by easily outclassing Delhi’s Dinesh Kumar 7-0 in the men’s 74kg category.
Livan claimed the advantage right away by opening up a 3-0 lead in the first round. Lopez, the triple World Championships bronze medallist, was far superior to Dinesh in both physical strength and technique.
Dinesh, a medallist at the junior Asian championships, tried his level best, but was no match for his experienced rival.
Promising youngster Gurpal Singh brought the Dilli Veers back on level terms by defeating the Hammers’ Argentinian wrestler Yuri Maier 11-0 in the men’s 97kg event.
Gurpal took four points in the first minute of the opening bout by bringing his opponent down with a leg hold. He then consolidated his lead by picking up three more points before the end of the round. Yuri, a silver medallist at the Pan Am Games, was no match for the Indian youngster in the second round as well. Gurpal picked up two points right at the start of the second period by bringing Yuri down.
The Bhatinda lad then used his superior physical strength to good effect by pushing Yuri out of the arena to pick up two more points and win the bout by technical superiority.
Oksana wrested back the advantage for Haryana by defeating Dilli’s Yesilirmak Elif Jale by fall in the women’s 58kg section.
Jale, a bronze medallist at the 2015 World Championships, took a 1-0 lead in the first round. But Oksana, who attracted the highest bid at the PWL auction, lived up to her billing by overpowering her opponent in the next round.
Hitender increased Hammers’ lead by defeating Krishan Kumar of Dilli Veers 7-4 in the men’s 125kg category.
Hitender took a four-point lead right at the start. The Dilli Veers coaching staff contested the referee’s decision. But their objection was overruled by the jury who awarded an additional point to the Haryana wrestler. Starting the second round with a comfortable 5-0 lead, Hitender suffered a setback when Krishan brought him down to earn four points.
But the 2013 Asian Championships bronze medallist picked up three straight points in the closing stages to win the bout.
In the women’s 69kg, Haryana’s Geetika Jakhar fought back from a 0-2 deficit against Nikki of Dilli Veers to level the scores at 2-2 and win the bout.
Dilli Veers captain Vinesh Phogat defeated Haryana’s Nirmala Devi 10-0 in the women’s 48kg event to pull one back for her team. Vinesh was much too superior to her opponent and wrapped up the contest by fall within the first round. But it did not prove to be enough for the Dilli Veers as Hammers’ icon player Yogeshwar overcame a tough challenge from 2015 World Championships silver medallist Navruzov Ikhtiyor 3-1 in the 65kg category to complete a comprehensive victory for Haryana.
Earlier on Friday night, Bengaluru Yodhas enjoyed a rocking start to their campaign in the inaugural edition of the Pro Wrestling League (PWL) with a rather one-sided 6-1 thrashing of Uttar Pradesh Warriors
Sandeep Tomar handed Bengaluru the early lead when he easily outclassed Sergey Ratushniy 4-2 in the men’s 57kg bout.
Tomar was both technically and physically superior to his Ukrainian opponent. Sergey found it next to impossible to penetrate his defence while the Indian kept his opponent under continuos pressure with quick attacking moves.
Tomar took two points right at the start of the bout before consolidating with a further two thanks to a leg hold. Sergey managed to bag a couple of points in the second round, but the Indian’s superior defence ensured that he did not concede any more.
The men’s 65kg bout was up next and the promising Bajrang Punia doubled Bengaluru’s lead by defeating the experienced Rahul Mann.