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Sakshi Malik wins but Delhi lose again

Pro Wrestling League

Punjab Royals registered a superb 5-2 victory over Delhi Sultans despite the home team skipper Sakshi Malik and her fiance Satyawart Kadian's heroics in the second edition of the Pro Wrestling League in New Delhi on Sunday.

Punjab took the upper hand with an early 3-0 lead but Satyawart and Rio Olympics bronze medallist Sakshi managed to keep Delhi Sultans' hopes alive with back-to-back wins.

Sakshi hardly broke a sweat in the opening round against Manju Kumari of Punjab in women's 58kg. She won four easy points to lead 4-0 after round one. The second round was no different with Sakshi eventually clinching the bout 10-0.

However, Azerbaijan's star wrestler Togrul Zasgarov dashed the home team's hopes as he wrapped up the tie in Punjab's favour in just 30 seconds for a rather comfortable victory, with the last bout of the evening still remaining.

For Delhi, Praveen Rana failed to live up to the expectations, going down to a lesser known opponent Jitender, despite gaining an early lead, to hand over the advantage to the Punjab team.

In the end, Punjab extended the margin of victory, winning the final encounter also with ease.

Earlier, in the 57kg category, Rio Games champion Vladimir Khinchegashvili lived up to his reputation to post a comfortable 8-1 win over Delhi's Pankaj and gave Punjab an early lead.

The 2015 World championship gold winner was leading 6-0 at the break. Though Pankaj gave a good fight, it turned out to be easy for Vladimir.

The highlight of the evening was the keenly fought battle between the two Indians - Punjab's Jitender and Praveen Rana of Delhi - in men's 74kg, in which the former registered a come-from-behind victory to extend his team's lead to 2-0.

Rana started off brilliantly and stole four points to lead 4-0 after round one, but Jitender fought back strongly in the second round. After acquiring a point, Jitender gained two more by overpowering Rana. With just a minute to go, Jitender continued to attack and managed to pin down his rival for another two crucial points in the dying minutes of the match to wrap it up in style, winning 5-4.

Another Phogat sister, Sangeeta, representing Delhi Sultans, faced a much stronger opponent in Odunayo Folasade Adekuoroye in women's 53kg and in the very first minute of the bout the dangerous Nigerian wrestler proved her mettle. By the end of the opening round, she had already added 12 points to her kitty.

It turned out to be a cakewalk for the Nigerian, who won the contest 15-0 via technical superiority in just three minutes and 59 seconds. This was the second successive bout where she has won by technical superiority.

With Punjab leading 3-0, the onus was on Satyawart Kadian to keep Delhi Sultans' chances alive and he made his intentions clear with two early points against Krishan Kumar in men's 97kg. Satyawart added two more points before conceding one to lead 4-1 at the break.

In round two, Satyawart continued to extend his lead by putting down his opponent and flipping him over. Although Krishan managed to gain a couple of points towards the end, Satyawart won it 14-4 in the end.

Delhi's key player Bajrang Punia opted out owing to a knee injury and his replacement Surjeet Singh went down tamely to Rio Games silver medallist and London Olympics champion Togrul Asgarov in men's 65kg.

In the inconsequential final bout, Vasilisa Marzaliuk got the better of Alina Makhynia 2-1.

Earlier, Punjab Royals won the toss and blocked women's 48kg, while Delhi Sultans blocked men's 70kg category.