New Delhi: Sandeep Tomar, Rajneesh, along with Haryana Hammers' foreign exports, helped the team register a came-from-behind win to enter the final of the Pro Wrestling League season two by beating new entrants Jaipur Ninjas 6-3 in the first semifinals in New Delhi on Tuesday.
After Magomed Kurbanaliev and Marwa Amri levelled the scores for Haryana, Rajneesh, Sandeep and Sofia Mattsson ensured group stage table toppers Haryana's smooth entry into the final with a dominating show.
Haryana will clash with winner of the second semi-finals between Punjab Royals and Mumbnai Maharathis on Thursday.
Unlike in the group stage, none of the categories were blocked on Tuesday and all nine bouts were fought, negating any advantage to any of the semi-finalists.
Georgia's Jakob Makarashvili gave Jaipur Ninjas an early lead by defeating Sumit Sehrawat 10-0 in the opening bout of the match.
Jakob was clinical against Sumit as he took him down with surprising agility on multiple occasions to deny the Indian wrestler any chance of making a comeback in the bout. Having taken the 4-0 lead after the first round, Jakob went on extending the lead in the second round as well and won it easily in the end in men's 74kg.
Up next was youngest of the Phogat sisters, Ritu of Jaipur against Indu Chaudhary of Haryana Hammers in women's 48kg.
With both sisters Babita and Sangeeta supporting from the sidelines, Ritu did very well to take down Indu thrice in the opening round to surge ahead with a 6-0 lead at the break.
In round two, Indu tried to make a comeback but Ritu denied her any chance. In fact, once it seemed that Indu would gain a couple of points when she could pull down Ritu but the Phogat girl turned things on her rival itself and managed to earn two more points to bag the bout 8-0 and extend Jaipur's lead.
Haryana's foreign imports – Magomed Kurbanaliev and Marwa Amri – then proved their dominance on the mat with contrasting victories to help the team level the scores 2-2.
While Magomed of Russia overcame a tough challenge from India's Vinod Kumar Omprakash, who showed some brilliant defensive skills, before prevailing 5-0 in men's 70kg, it was a cakewalk for Marwa in women's 58kg against Pooja Dhanda as the Tunisian wrestler pinned the Indian down on several occasions, besides flipping her once to clinch the bout 10-0.
Rajneesh gave Haryana the lead for the first time today after eking out a narrow 8-6 win over Jaipur's Rahul Mann in a closely fought bout in men's 65kg.
In a neck-and-neck battle, Rajneesh managed to always maintain a lead in an encounter that saw fluctuating fortunes. Rajneesh was leading 6-3 at the break but Rahul came back strongly in the second round to reduce the margin. However, Rajneesh held on to his nerves to have the last laugh.
Jaipur's Jenny Fransson, Rio Olympics bronze medallist, claimed the sixth bout of the day to once again tie the scores 3-3.
In a one-sided contest, Sweden's Jenny hardly had to break a sweat against Kiran of Haryana, winning it 8-0 in women's 75kg.
The onus was on Sandeep Tomar, who last night stunned Rio Olympics gold medallist Vladimir Khinchegashvili, to hand back the lead to Haryana and he did just that in another tightly contested bout.
A decisive attacking manoeuvre once again helped Rio Olympian Sandeep to prevail over his compatriot by just solitary point 5-4.
Leading 3-0 after the first round, Sandeep conceded points to Rahul in the second round as the latter gained four straight points by throwing Sandeep down on the ground flat on his back.
With just 30 odd seconds left, Rahul was suddenly leading 4-3 and a desperate Sandeep used all his skills and strength to take down his opponent in the dying moments of the tie in men's 57kg.
Rio Games bronze winner Sofia Mattsson then took just two minutes and 15 seconds to steer Haryana Hammers into the final with an 8-0 'Win by Fall' verdict in women's 53kg.
Haryana Hammers captain Abdusalam Gadisov continued his unbeaten run in the tournament by getting the better of Elizbar Odikadze 5-4 in men's 97kg in another close contest.
Both wrestlers were engaged in a battle of superior offence and defence, delighting the spectators with their manoeuvres before Gadisov won one point in the last couple of seconds in a controversial decision, to extend the margin of victory for Haryana.
After Monday's disappointment against Odunayo Folasade Adekuoroye of Nigeria, Sofia Mattsson came back strongly to thrash Betzabeth Arguello in the first half itself.
"After last night's loss, I was very careful not to get stuck in the opponent's style of wrestling and instead, from the very beginning, I reminded myself that I was going to do it in my style today. That is why I played my way today from the very start of the bout," said the Olympic medallist from Sweden.
Both Sandeep and Rajneesh insisted that it was their day against Jaipur Ninjas and they did well to prevail over their respective rivals in closely fought ties.
"I was confident after beating an Olympic medallist yesterday (Monday) but was guarded against complacency as I knew that Utkarsh Kale was a strong wrestler and was prepared to give my 100 per cent. It was a very close match but I am used to playing such close games against him. I am have won," said Sandeep.
Rajneesh said he had fought about 12-14 bouts against Rahul Mann earlier.
"I have fought 12-13 bouts with him. Sometimes he is better, sometime me. Today I was in better form than him so I could defeat him," he said.
Asked who between them have won more times, Rajneesh said, "Me."
Published Date: Jan 18, 2017 00:22 AM | Updated Date: Jan 18, 2017 00:22 AM