Punjab Royals took the joint top spot with a 5-2 victory over Delhi Sultans in a Pro Wrestling League (PWL) contest at the K.D. Jadhav Stadium on Sunday evening.
Punjab are now on four points from three outings. They have the same number of points as fellow table toppers Jaipur Ninjas and Haryana Hammers who have played one match less.
Delhi, on the other hand, are yet to open their account. They have lost both their ties so far and languish at the bottom of the table along with UP Dangal.
Rio Olympics bronze medallist Sakshi Malik (women’s 58kg) and her fiance Satyavart Kadian (men’s 97kg) were the only Delhi wrestlers who managed to win their respective bouts on Sunday.
Punjab’s Jitendra (men’s 74kg) was adjudged the player of the tie for his gritty comeback win over Delhi promising grappler Parveen Rana.
Punjab captain Vladimir Khinchegashvili won the toss and decided to block the women’s 48kg category. Delhi skipper Sakshi, on the other hand, decided to block the men’s 70kg division.
Vladimir got the proceedings off on a positive note for Punjab by outclassing Delhi’s Pankaj Kumar 8-1 in the men’s 57kg category.
Pankaj displayed good upper body strength to keep Vladimir at bay early in the first period.
But the reigning Olympic champion from Georgia used his superior technique to take the lead with a four-point tackle.
Another takedown in the last seconds of the opening round saw the Punjab skipper go into the break with a 6-0 lead.
The Georgian star earned another couple of points early in the second and proceeded to use his superior technique and superb reflexes to keep Pankaj’s repeated attacks at bay.
Although Pankaj managed to score a point in the last minute of the bout with a pushout, it was never going to be enough.
National champion Jitendra extended Punjab’s lead with an action packed 5-4 win over Delhi’s Pankaj Rana in the men’s 74kg division.
Rana took the lead in the first period with a takedown followed by a flipover which earned him four points.
But Jitendra turned things around in dramatic fashion in an action packed second round.
He earned his first point after the referee applied the passivity rule against Rana.
The reigning national champion earned a couple of points shortly after with a takedown before another two-point move right at the end earned him a dramatic, come-from-behind victory.
Nigeria’s Odunayo Folasade Adekuoroye gave Punjab a formidable 3-0 lead by quashing Sangeeta Phogat of Delhi by technical superiority.
Odunayo used her superior technique and physical strength to earn points with impunity before the contest was stopped when she was enjoying a 15-0 lead.
Satyavart Kadian reduced the gap for Delhi by overpowering Punjab’s Krishan Kumar 14-4 in the men’s 97kg division.
Satyawart opened up a 4-0 lead in the first round before Krishan earned a point.
The Delhi grappler totally dominated the second round to earn a well-deserved win.
Rio Olympics bronze medallist Sakshi Malik reduced the deficit further by defeating Manju Kumari of Punjab 10-0 in the women’s 58kg category.
Sakshi opened up a 4-0 lead in the first round and never looked back from there.
But any hopes of a Delhi comeback that the local crowd may have nurtured was nipped in the bud when Rio Olympics silver medallist Togrul Asgarov of Azerbaijan handed Punjab an insurmountable 4-2 lead.
The former European champion needed just 30 seconds to pin Delhi’s 2013 World Championship bronze medallist Bajrang Punia and clinch the men’s 65kg contest.
Former European champion Vasilisa Marzaliuk of Belarus rounded off the proceedings on a high note for Punjab with a hard-fought 2-1 win over Delhi’s Alina Makhynia.
Punjab captain Vladimir asserted that his team is confident of winning the PWL title this year.
“My team is awesome. I am very confident of becoming champions this season,” he said.
“I have good amount of experience in Olympics and world championships hence I believe I am able to apply my techniques at the right moment,” Punjab’s Azerbaijan star Asgarov added.
“This is my first time participating in the league hence, it’s a great learning experience being here in the PWL.”