New Delhi, January 13: Mumbai Maharathi held their nerve to prevail 4-3 in a tense contest against Colors Delhi Sultans at the K D Jadhav Indoor Stadium here today. With this victory, Mumbai progressed to the Semi Finals of the Patanjali Powervita Pro Wrestling League Season 2.
Delhi Captain Sakshi Malik won the toss and decided to block the 57 kg Men’s category, thereby averting the threat of Mumbai’s Rahul Aware who has had a decent outing so far. Mumbai chose to block the 53 kg Women’s category as Delhi’s Sangeeta Phogat sat out for the tie.
The opening bout of the evening was played between Delhi’s David Tlashadze and Mumbai’s young grappler Pritam in the 70 kg Men’s category. Georgian wrestler Tlashadze was dominant from the start, taking down Pritam as well as pushing him out of the protected area to score points. Although Pritam managed to take down Tlashadze in the final moments of the bout, Delhi, who were playing in a crucial match to qualify for the Semi Finals, began with a 6-2 victory.
Three-time Olympian Mariya Stadnik and Delhi’s prized catch made short work of Mumbai’s Carolina Castillo Hidalgo as Delhi won the second bout 5-0 to get an advantageous 2-0 lead in the tie. Azerbaijan’s Stadnik wrestled with agility and purpose as she managed to pin her opponent to the mat and Won By Fall in the 48 kg Women’s category.
Mumbai Maharathi earned their first win of the evening thanks to the strength and technique displayed by 2016 Olympics Bronze medalist Jabrayil Hasanov against Colors Delhi Sultans’ Parveen Rana in the 74 kg Men’s category. Although Parveen Rana attacked Hasanov resolutely, the Azerbaijan-born wrestler displayed solid defensive techniques to deny him any points. Hasanov showed more aggression in the final round, taking down his opponent to establish a clear lead and win the bout 7-0.
Sakshi Malik, Captain of Colors Delhi Sultans displayed her superiority on the mat following this, as she emerged the victor in a tough contest against Mumbai Maharathi’s Sarita. Sakshi, who won Bronze at the 2016 Olympics depended on two penalty points awarded due to passivity from Sarita to maintain a slender 2-1 lead, before effecting a critical push out to win in the 58 kg Women’s category 3-1.
The fifth bout of the evening was a high-octane contest between Delhi’s Surjeet Grewal and Mumbai’s Vikas in the 65 kg Men’s category. Surjeet, who replaced Delhi’s prized catch Bajrang Punia for the tie, tried to attack Vikas with single leg holds but it paid no dividends, as the Mumbai grappler turned things around with a powerful takedown coupled with a rollover. Vikas stepped up his attack in the second round, even as Surjeet kept searching for opportunities. However, Vikas tilted the scales in his favour as he took down Surjeet, executed a rollover, and ended it by flipping over his opponent. Eventually, Vikas prevailed in the high-scoring bout as he pinned Surjeet to the mat, Winning By Fall with a 15-8 margin.
Delhi’s Bajrang Punia was ruled out of the tie due to an injury.
Mumbai Captain Erica Wiebe set up the tie for an exciting finish as she clinched the sixth bout in her favour, defeating Delhi’s Alina Makhynia 3-0 in the 75 kg Women’s category. Erica, who came onto the mat with a bandaged forehead, kept applying sustained pressure on Alina despite suffering another injury. Mumbai’s Erica, who achieved five wins in a row in PWL 2, used attacking single leg holds and tackles to score points as Delhi’s Alina was denied any opportunity to open her account. The 2016 Olympics Gold medalist stamped her authority as she won the crucial bout for Mumbai 3-0. At this stage, both teams were level with a 3-3 scoreline.
The clash between the two teams culminated in an exciting finish with the final bout in the 97 kg heavyweight Men’s category being the decider for the first time in PWL 2. Delhi’s Satyavart Kadian, who won Silver at the 2014 Commonwealth Games faced off against Mumbai’s Pavlo Oliynik in an exciting contest that saw the Delhi grappler lead 1-0 after the first round and effect a vital takedown in the beginning of the second round. However, Oliynik used his skills to demonstrate a dramatic turnaround, pushing out Satyavart three times before accumulating crucial points with takedowns. Mumbai won the bout 8-3, and the tie 4-3, as they advanced to the Semi Finals of PWL 2.
Anil Maan, Coach of the Mumbai Maharathi, said: “Sarita fought as per our expectations today and we are quite happy with the result.” He also appeared confident before the Semi Finals. “Our team is confident enough to face off with any teams in semi finals and we are sure of winning PWL this season,” he remarked.
Mumbai Captain Erica Wiebe said: “Sarita and I spoke before her match and I must say she wrestled a tough opponent today. I just told her to be smart and decisive as the whole crowd would be cheering for Sakshi so she would need to maintain her focus. But Sarita gave her best… she did not give up any moment and I am happy about it.”