Post her bronze-medal finish in the World Wrestling Championships in Hungary last year, 25-year-old Haryana wrestler Pooja Dhanda had not competed in any tournament. The Haryana wrestler had suffered a shoulder injury during the world championships and the last two months saw the Hisar wrestler recovering from the injury. Dhandha, who is leading MP Yodhas in this year’s Pro Wrestling League, led the comeback for her team along with Rio Olympics bronze medallist Haji Aliyev of Azerbaijan and Sandeep Tomar to set up the 4-3 win against Delhi Sultans in their opening match of the PWL at Tau Devi Lal Stadium on Tuesday.
“I was competing in a tournament for the first time after winning the bronze medal in the World Championships in Hungary last year. I suffered a shoulder injury during the World Championships and the last two months were spent recovering from the injury and doing strengthening exercises. It feels great that I have made a comeback in this tournament and won my about today. I will try for such wins in the next bouts too. After this tournament, I will play in the friendly Grand Prix starting February 22 before we start preparations for the Asian Championships,” shared Dhanda.
On Tuesday, MP Yodhas made a fine start in the match as Deepak scored a win over Praveen of Delhi Sultans in the opening match. Yodhas were trailing 1-3 after the fourth bout of the match as Pinki (Women’s 53 Kg ), Khetik Tsabalov (Men’s 74 Kg) and Anastasia Shustova (Women’s 76 Kg) of Delhi Sultans won their respective bouts against Ritu Phogat, Vasil Mikhailov and Andrea Olaya respectively. In the fifth bout of the evening, Rio Olympics bronze medallist Haji Aliyev of Azerbaijan won 9-2 against Andrey Kviatkovski in the men’s 65 Kg bout to make it 2-3 for the Yodhas. Dhanda outclassed Katherina Zhydachivska 6-0 in the women’s 57 Kg bout.
The last bout of the match saw Sandeep Tomar carving out a 9-7 win over Pankaj in the men’s 57 Kg bout for the Yodhas. “We knew that our best players will come after three bouts and the losses in the start did not hamper us. We are a new team and we knew that pressure will be on me and Aliyev as we are the senior players in the team. Winning such bouts to help the team to make a comeback gives a lot of confidence. Later, Sandeep won a close bout and starting the league with a win will add to the team’s morale,” added Dhanda.
Earlier in the match, Delhi Sultans had won the toss and blocked the women’s 62 Kg category, while Yodhas blocked the men’s 125 Kg category.