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Punjab Royals beat Mumbai Maharathi 4-3

Pro Wrestling League

NCR Punjab Royals registered a close 4-3 win over Mumbai Maharathi at the K D Jadhav Indoor Stadium in New Delhi on Thursday in the second season of the Pro Wrestling League.

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 which meant that Mumbai's Jabrayil Hasanov had to sit out as well.

The opening bout of the tie was won by Punjab as their captain Vladimir Khinchegashvili used all his experience to overcome a stiff challenge from Maharathi's Rahul Aware.

The Maharashtra wrestler, who was riding on the burden of expectations after his brilliant victory over Haryana's Sandeep Tomar in the opening tie of the competition, employed several tactics to score points, but Vladimir, who won Gold at the Rio Olympics, won the bout 7-3.

Mumbai captain and 2016 Olympics gold medalist Erica Wiebe leveled scores in the next bout, staging a remarkable comeback to defeat Vasilisa Marzaliuk 4-2.

Erica, who got injured in the bout, countered Vasilisa's aggression using single leg tackles and effected crucial takedowns to win the 75kg women's division.

Indian grapplers Pankaj Rana (Punjab) and Pritam (Mumbai) fought a close battle in the next bout. In the first round, Rana finished on top. The second round saw a flurry of points as the spectators were treated to superbly executed takedowns, leg tackles and ankle holds.

Eventually, Rana came out on top, winning the 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 the 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 won 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 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.