Sandeep Tomar stunned Rio Olympics champion Vladimir Khinchegashvili to help Haryana Hammers defeat Punjab Royals 5-2 and register their fifth straight win in the Pro Wrestling League season two to top the table, in New Delhi on Monday.
With this win, Haryana Hammers remained unbeaten in the group stage and will now clash with fourth placed Jaipur Ninjas in the first semifinal on Tusday.
Punjab, meanwhile, will face Mumbai Maharathis in the second semifinal.
The opening bout set the tone of the evening as Sandeep posted a 3-1 upset victory over Vladimir in men’s 57kg category.
What was supposed to be one-sided contest turned out to the bout of the tournament with Sandeep springing up a massive surprise with his agile movement on the mat and his superb defence.
Vladimir managed to win a solitary point in round one to lead 1-0 at the break but Rio Olympian Sandeep made a strong comeback in the second half of the bout, showcasing some brilliant defensive skills. He was so quick on the mat that Vladimir struggled to get hold of the Indian wrestler.
In round two, Sandeep earned one point against Vladimir due to passivity before stunning his stronger opponent by taking him down in the last 30 seconds of tie to give Haryana an early lead.
In the second contest, Abdusalam Gadisov of Haryana proved too strong for India’s Krishan Kumar as expected.
The 2015 World championship silver medallist from Russia got the better of Punjab’s Krishan 5-0 rather comfortably in men’s 97kg to extend Haryana’s lead.
Indu Chaudhary then capitalised on the advantage and handed Haryana Hammers a 3-0 lead. Indu hardly spared an inch to her compatriot Nirmala Devi of Punjab Royals and in the end clinched the bout 2-1 in women’s 48kg division.
However, Ilias Bekbulatov kept Punjab’s hopes alive by winning the men’s 65kg bout 11-1 over Haryana’s Rajneesh.
Having put up a dominating show in the first round, the Russian took a comfortable 6-1 lead after round one. Bekbulatov continued with his good work in the second round also and kept extending the lead to ultimately bag the bout easily.
But Punjab’s happiness was short-lived as World Championship gold medallist Magomed Kurbanaliev of Haryana wrapped up the bout as well as the match 16-0 via technical superiority against Pankaj Rana in just two minutes and 59 seconds in men’s 70kg.
Having taken an unassailable 4-1 lead, there was no pressure on the two Rio Olympics bronze medallists — Marwa Amri and Sofia Mattsson – but both posted contrasting results in the last two inconsequential ties.
Proving her mettle, Marwa simply thrashed Manju Kumari 16-0 in three minutes and 58 seconds in women’s 58kg.
But in the final encounter, Sofia failed to counter Odunayo Folasade Adekuoroye’s techniques in women’s 53kg and the Nigerian wrestler took a 4-0 lead at the end of the opening round.
Odunayo further astonished Sofia in the second round by bagging two more points, taking her down once again to win 6-1 in what turned out to be another upset of the day.
Earlier, Haryana Hammers won the toss and blocked women’s 75kg, while Punjab Royals blocked men’s 74kg category.