Mumbai Maharathi held their nerves to prevail over Delhi Sultans 4-3 in a tense contest and book a berth in the semifinals of the Pro Wrestling League Season 2 in New Delhi on Friday. Olympic bronze medallist and Delhi captain Sakshi Malik won her bout but that was not enough as her team lost the tie at K D Jadhav Indoor Stadium. Sakshi won the toss and decided to block the 57 kg men’s category, thereby averting the threat of Mumbai’s Rahul Aware. Mumbai chose to block the 53 kg women’s category and Delhi’s Sangeeta Phogat sat out for the tie.
The opening bout was between Delhi’s David Tlashadze and Mumbai’s young grappler Pritam in the 70 kg men’s category. Georgian wrestler Tlashadze was dominant from the start, taking down Pritam as well as pushing him out of the protected area to score points. Although Pritam managed to take down Tlashadze in the final moments of the bout, the Georgian won it 6-2 to give Delhi, who were playing in a crucial match to qualify for the semifinals, the early advantage.
Three-time Olympian Mariya Stadnik and Delhi’s prized catch made short work of Mumbai’s Carolina Castillo Hidalgo as Delhi won the second bout 5-0 to get an advantageous 2-0 lead in the tie. Azerbaijan’s Stadnik wrestled with agility and purpose as she managed to pin her opponent to the mat and Won By Fall in the 48 kg women’s category. Mumbai earned their first win of the evening thanks to the strength and technique displayed by Rio Olympics Bronze medalist Jabrayil Hasanov against Delhi’s Parveen Rana in the 74 kg men’s category.
Although Rana attacked Hasanov resolutely, the Azerbaijan-born wrestler displayed solid defensive techniques to deny him any points. Hasanov showed more aggression in the final round, taking down his opponent to establish a clear lead and win the bout 7-0. Sakshi then displayed her superiority as she emerged the victor in a tough contest against Mumbai Maharathi’s Sarita. Sakshi, who won bronze at the Rio Olympics, depended on two penalty points awarded due to passivity from Sarita to maintain a slender 2-1 lead, before effecting a critical push out to win in the 58 kg women’s category 3-1.
The fifth bout was a high-octane contest between Delhi’s Surjeet Grewal and Mumbai’s Vikas in the 65 kg men’s category. Surjeet, who replaced Delhi’s prized catch Bajrang Punia for the tie, tried to attack Vikas with single leg holds but it paid no dividends, as the Mumbai grappler turned things around with a powerful takedown coupled with a rollover. Vikas stepped up his attack in second round while Surjeet kept searching for opportunities. However, Vikas tilted the scales in his favour as he took down Surjeet, executed a rollover, and ended it by flipping over his opponent.
Eventually, Vikas prevailed in the high-scoring bout as he pinned Surjeet to the mat, Winning By Fall with 15-8 score. Mumbai captain Erica Wiebe set up the tie for an exciting finish as she clinched the sixth bout in her favour, defeating Delhi’s Alina Makhynia 3-0 in the 75 kg women’s category. Erica, who came onto the mat with a bandaged forehead, kept applying sustained pressure on Alina despite suffering another injury.
Erica, who achieved five wins in a row in PWL 2, used attacking single leg holds and tackles to score points as Delhi’s Alina was denied any opportunity to open her account. The 2016 Olympics Gold medalist stamped her authority as she won the crucial bout for Mumbai 3-0. At this stage, both teams were level with a 3-3 scoreline. The clash between the two teams culminated in an exciting finish with the final bout in the 97 kg heavyweight men’s category being the decider for the first time in PWL 2. Delhi’s Satyavart Kadian, who won silver at the 2014 Commonwealth Games, faced off against Mumbai’s Pavlo Oliynik in an exciting contest that saw the Delhi grappler take 1-0 lead after the first round and effect a vital takedown in the beginning of the second round.
However, Oliynik brought about a dramatic turnaround, pushing out Satyavart three times before accumulating crucial points with takedowns to win 8-3.