New Delhi: NCR Punjab Royals dictated terms on day four of the Pro Wrestling League season 2 by ekeing out a close 4-3 win over Mumbai Maharathi at the K D Jadhav Indoor Stadium, in New Delhi on Thursday.
Mumbai had an early advantage as they won the toss and decided to block the 53kg women's category, thus preventing the dangerous Odunayo Folasade Adekuoroye from contesting in the tie.
Punjab blocked the 74kg men's category as Mumbai's Jabrayil Hasanov has to sit out as well.
Cricketer Harbhajan Singh, co-owner of Mumbai Maharathi, turned up to support his team and added to the excitement to the evening.
The opening bout of the tie was won by NCR Punjab Royals as their captain Vladimir Khinchegashvili used all his experience to overcome a stiff challenge from Mumbai Maharathi's Rahul Aware.
The Maharashtra grappler, who was riding on the burden of expectations after his brilliant victory over Haryana's Sandeep Tomar in the opening game, employed several tactics to score points, but Vladimir, the 2016 Olympics gold medalist was the better opponent on the day, winning the bout 7-3.
Mumbai captain and 2016 Olympics gold medalist Erica Wiebe drew level with Punjab in the next bout, staging a remarkable comeback to defeat Vasilisa Marzaliuk 4-2.
In a bout that saw both blood and sweat drip, Erica, who got injured in the game, countered Vasilisa's aggression using single leg tackles and effecting crucial takedowns to win the 75kg women's division.
A highly engrossing bout followed this as Indian grapplers Pankaj Rana from Punjab and Pritam from Mumbai fought neck-and-neck in both the rounds.
In the first round, both wrestlers showed tremendous skill and control, even as Pankaj Rana finished on top. The second round saw a flurry of points as a cat-and mouse-game between the two grapplers ensued, even as the spectators were treated to superbly executed takedowns, leg tackles and ankle holds.
Eventually, Pankaj Rana came out on the top, winning the fascinating 70kg men's bout 9-8.
The fourth bout was contested between Punjab's Nirmla Devi and Mumbai's Carolina Castillo Hidalgo in the 48kg women's category.
The 33-year-old Nirmla Devi, a 2010 Commonwealth Games silver medalist, used all her experience to win the contest 3-0.
Colombia-born Carolina struggled against Nirmla, playing a defensive game and giving away points. By virtue of this win, Punjab went up 3-1 in the tie. For her brilliance on the mat, Nirmla Devi was adjudged player of the day.
Following this, Mumbai Maharathi's Vikas Kumar took on Punjab's Togrul Asgarov in a crucial fifth bout. Asgarov, who won gold in the 2012 Olympics and silver in the 2016 Rio Games, proved too good for Vikas as Punjab nailed the bout 7-3 and gained an unsurpassable 4-1 lead in the tie.
Mumbai's Sarita kept fighting to salvage her team's pride, as she won the 58kg women's category against Punjab's Manju Kumari. Sarita's cleverly executed manoeuvre won her a crucial couple of points as she banked on tactical defence to keep Manju at bay, winning by a slender 2-1 margin.
The final bout of the day was contested between Punjab's Krishan Kumar and Mumbai's Pavlo Oliynik in the heavyweight 97kg men's category in which the Ukrainian prevailed 2-0, denying his opponent any chance to score points.
Although Mumbai finished strongly in the tie, they conceded a 3-4 defeat to Punjab at the end of the day.
Speaking after the match, Punjab captain Vladimir Khinchegashvili said: "I am very happy for the team's victory."
Updated Date: Jan 05, 2017 22:43 PM