New Delhi: Olympian and India's most celebrated female wrestler Geeta Phogat representing Punjab encountered a shock defeat against unheralded Shakshi Malik of Mumbai as the much-hyped Pro Wrestling League (PWL) started in a chaotic note.
It was Mumbai which came from behind to beat Bollywood veteran Dharmendra co-owned Punjab 5-2 in the opening contest. It was ''Best of 7 bouts' with men 65kg and women 48 kg categories being blocked. Amidst all the chaos and confusion that marred the poorly-organised event, it was Geeta's defeat that came as the biggest surprise of the day.
The bout which saw a number of referrals being taken, ultimately ended with scores tied at 8-8. But it was of Mumbai who had the last laugh in women's 58kg category as she bagged more points on the trot as compared to her compatriot. Geeta looked out of sorts at times as her much younger opponent proved to be really good at times.
After Geeta's loss, Mumbai sealed the contest with an unassailable 4-2 lead.
Earlier, in the beginning, the first bout between Vladimir Khinchegashvii (Punjab) and Rahul Aware (Mumbai) in the men's 57 kg had to be stopped after 19 seconds.
The reason for stoppage by the referee was because the cheerleaders did not know their positions and officials along with a lot of hanger-ons were just standing all around creating an atmosphere of total confusion.
The two players, who had already started their fight, went back to their respective corners and waited for the match to begin again. It was again started from scratch. Vladimir showed some really good defence to outplay Rahul 6-0 to give Punjab the 1-0 lead.
In the second bout between Mumbai's Nigerian recruit Odunaya Adekouroye and Punjab's Priyanka Phogat in women's 53 kg division, Mumbai, however, came back strongly with a 10-2 win. The Indian girl proved no match for her Nigerian opponent, going down tamely in the end.
The third bout in men's 74kg between Praveen Rana of Punjab against Pradeep of Punjab was a closely-fought affair with the scoreline reading 5-5. But in the end, it was Praveen, who prevailed over Mumbai's Pradeep as he bagged the last two points of the fight, to again give Punjab the upper hand with a 2-1 lead.
The fourth bout saw Mumbai's icon player Adeline Gray living up to her reputation as she overpowered Punjab's Vasilisa Marzaliuk in Women's +69 kg category 10-1 in a one-sided contest to score the equaliser for Mumbai. Odikadze Elizbar of Mumbai gave his team the lead, beating India international Mausam Khatri of Punjab 8-3 in
men's 97 kg.
In the first round, Elizbar gained six points to lead 6-0 and then earned two more points in the next round. Even though Khatri managed to win three point, but was it was not enough. Once Geeta lost, Mumbai took an unassailable lead and no way could have the Punjab team made a comeback in the contest.
The last bout was won by Mumbai in men's 125kg category to register a comprehensive victory. Mumbai skipper Gray said that they were happy with the win and are confident of winning the league in its inception year.
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