Haryana Hammers rode on a superb performance from their captain and icon player Yogeshwar Dutt to overpower Uttar Pradesh Warriors (UPW) 4-3 to register their third win on the trot in the inaugural edition of the Pro Wrestling League (PWL) here on Saturday.
Both teams were engaged in a neck and neck fight and the scores were locked 3-3 before Yogeshwar defeated a spirited Vikas 9-4 in the men's 65kg division in what was the seventh and final bout of the day. With this win, the Hammers have climbed to the joint top position on the PWL points table along with Mumbai Garudas. Both teams have accumulated six points each from their first three matches.
UPW remain on two points, having managed to win only one of the five matches they have played so far. Haryana kicked off the proceedings in style as Nitin Sergey defeated UPW's Ratushniy 3-1 in the men's 57kg category to give his team the early lead.
Nitin took a 2-0 lead in the opening round and held on to the advantage till the end.
Oleksandra Kogut brought UPW back on level terms by beating Nirmal Devi 6-4 in the women's 48kg category.
Kogut was trailing 0-1 at the break. But a successful counter-attack against an aggressive move from Nirmal Devi in the second round enabled her to earn five points which proved to be decisive in the end.
Hitender put the Hammers back in the lead by overpowering UPW's Joginder Kumar 4-0 in the men's 125kg division. Alina Stadinik Makhina (women's 69kg) outclassed Haryana's Geetika Jakhar by technical superiority (11-0) to level the issue for UPW.
The Hammers put themselves back in the lead when their Cuban star Livan Lopez Azcuy beat Mongolia's 2015 World Championship silver medallist Purevjav Unurbat of UPW 4-1 in the men's 74kg class.
Lopez took a 1-0 lead when the referee invoked the Passivity rule against Unurbat. Up 2-0 at the break, Lopez took another two points in the second and final round with a superb takedown.
UPW levelled the scores again as Babita Kumari (women's 53kg) defeated Tatyana Kit of Haryana 8-6 in a hard fought clash.
But Haryana captain Yogeshwar led from the front to defeat a gallant Vikas Kumar 9-4 in the last bout of the day to ensure a hard fought victory for Haryana.
Vikas gave a good account of himself in the opening round to take a 4-3 lead at the break. But Yogeshwar showed his class in the second period, notching up six points to complete a comprehensive win.
Bengaluru to meet Punjab
Bengaluru Yodhas will take on a buoyant Punjab Royals in what will be a crucial Pro Wrestling League (PWL) clash with a potential semi-final berth up for grabs at the Gautam Buddh University here on Sunday.
The Royals are on a high after having defeated Dilli Veer by a 4-3 margin in their previous match and occupy second place on the table with four points from an equal number of games.
The Yodhas meanwhile, are at the fourth spot with one win from three matches. Victory over the Royals will provide some breathing space to the Yodhas and will help to keep their hopes of a semi-final spot alive. The Yodhas slid to a narrow 4-3 loss against the Haryana Hammers on Wednesday, a defeat that captain Narsingh Yadav said was difficult to digest.
“"In the game against Haryana, we were on top in a majority of bouts but somehow lost from positions of strength. There were at least two bouts that we should have won comfortably but the result says otherwise. The team has been doing well but it is the victories that matter. We have had a four day break and perhaps that was something that we needed," Yadav was quoted as saying in a statement.
The Yodhas have spent their break wisely, putting in the hard yards at the gym and also honing techniques on the mat under the eagle eyes of the coaching staff. Coach Kuldeep Malik said that the last four days have provided the team with a much-needed opportunity to rejuvenate themselves.
“"The situation is now very simple for us. Punjab have already won two matches and we need a win against them to make sure that we will reach the last four. Everyone knows what needs to be done and we have seen that every wrestler in the Yodhas' team has been seriously working on techniques and improving on their weaknesses," he said.
While Punjab have the reigning World champion in the 57 kg category in their ranks, coach Malik said that the presence of Vladimir Khinchegasvhili would not affect the Yodhas' preparations too much.
"We are not scared of Vladimir. He is a very good wrestler but we believe that Sandeep (Tomar) can give him a good fight. Sandeep has traditionally fought well against foreigners and I am sure he will enjoy the opportunity to take on the World Champion," he said.
In the other categories, Bajrang Punia will be pitted against Rajneesh in the 65 kg category while icon player Narsingh Yadav will wrestle the upcoming Parveen Rana in the 74 kg class. In the 97 kg category, Yodhas' Pavlo Oliiynik will face Mausam Khatri while Davit Modzmanashvili will battle Punjab's Mongolian star Jagarsaikhlan Chuluunbat in the 125 kg division.
In the women's section, Punjab Royals marquee player Geeta Phogat will have a tough bout as she takes on Yuliya.