India’s Olympic bronze medalist Sakshi Malik and two-time Olympic silver medalist Mariya Stadnik of Azerbaijan will face a mighty challenge when Delhi Sultans take on Jaipur Ninjas in their first tie in the second season of Pro Wrestling League (PWL), New Delhi on Friday.
Though Delhi team looks quite strong on papers, the Ninjas have proved their mettle by beating NCR Punjab Royals in their first encounter and have the ability to perform under pressure.
The surprise package of the Jaipur team was Utkarsh Kale against Punjab. The way he fought aggressively against the Olympic and world champion Vladimir Khinchegashvili in the 57kg men’s category shows that he can’t be taken lightly.
The Jaipur team management would be expecting a similar performance from him against the world championship bronze medalist Erdenebat Bekhbayar of Mongolia.
Another interesting encounter will be between Olympic medalist Mariya Stadnik and 2016 Commonwealth champion Ritu Phogat. The Indian believes that she can turn the tables against Delhi’s trump card Mariya.
Meanwhile, all eyes will be set on Sakshi Malik, India’s first-ever female Olympic medallist wrestler when she takes on another Indian Pooja Dhanda.
The 2014 senior Asian bronze medalist, Pooja had come back strongly against national champion Manju Kumari of Punjab to give Jaipur a 2-0 lead in the tie.
Interestingly, Sakshi’s fiance Satyawart Kadian is in the same team and will try to settle the scores with Elizbar Odikadze of Georgia in the 97kg weight category.
“With the inclusion of Indian stars like Sakshi and Bajrang Punia, the team is well balanced and Olympics star Mariya adds more strength to it,” said Delhi team owner Annurag Batra.
While co-owner Gaur Gupta added, “Sakshi is currently ruling the Indian hearts and it’s our moral responsibility to support this budding wrestler. I also appeal all wrestling enthusiasts and Indian supporters to cheer for our Indian icon.”
On the other hand, Jaipur team owner Ram Gupta is confident about his team’s performance.
“We have started the season with a bang and all our grapplers are fit and in good form. They will give their best to continue the winning streak,” he said.