PWL: Haryana Hammers beat UP Dangal to enter final
Haryana Hammers edged out UP Dangal 5-4 in a thrilling semi-final to qualify for the summit clash of the Pro Wrestling League (PWL) here on Thursday
Haryana Hammers edged out UP Dangal 5-4 in a thrilling semi-final to qualify for the summit clash of the Pro Wrestling League (PWL) here on Thursday. Sun Yanan played a crucial role for Haryana, winning on the ninth and deciding bout as the Hammers set up an explosive final clash with defending champions Punjab Royals. The Chinese Rio Olympics medallist scored her third straight victory over Vinesh Phogat to throw UP Dangal out of the competition. She won 4-1 in a tense and bitter semi-final that ended in tears.
The Hammers will seek revenge against the Royals, after losing the title to them last year. The Hammers jumped into an early lead, with reigning Olympic champion Vladimir Khinchegashvili defeating UP's Nitin Rathi in the men's 57 kilogram category in the opening bout. The Georgian star was stunned in the first period though, with Rathi taking the first point.
Vladimir, however, turned Nitin over to snatch five points in the second round. He still had to be on his guard as Nitin looked for points with his aggression. The Georgian eventually won 6-3. Zsanett Nemeth, however, promptly restored parity for UP by notching up a hard-fought 3-1 win over 2017 Commonwealth Championship silver medallist Pooja Sihag in the women's 76kg category. Zsanett raced to a 3-0 lead in the first round itself and decided to defend in the next to hold on to her lead.
World Championship silver medallist Khetik Tsabolov then pulled off a sensational victory over Bekzod Abdurakhmonov to put the Dangals in the lead. It was a fascinating tussle in the men's 74kg division that had the crowd on their feet. Uzbekistan's Bekzod took an early 2-0 lead but his attempt to pin Khetik back-fired, and he ended up conceding six points. Khetik took advantage of the change in fortunes to add two more points to take a healthy 8-2 lead.
Bekzod tried to fight back but he had yielded too much ground to force a recovery. Reigning world champion Helen Maroulis then scored a fine victory to take the Hammers to a 3-1 lead. Helen beat Vanesa Kaldzinskaya 5-4, although the match was not as close as the final score suggests. Maroulis was enjoying a comfortable 3-0 lead after the first period and was 5-2 up till the last minute. But Vanesa managed to push her off the mat just after regulation time to reduce the margin.
Rio Olympics gold medallist Jamaladdin Magomedov and local star Geeta Phogat won the next two bouts to level the tie 3-3 for UP. Jamaladdin easily overcame India's national champion Sumit Malik 7-0 in the men's 125kg clash while Geeta Phogat had to ward off a desperate attempt from compatriot Sarita Mor. Geeta took an early 1-0 lead and then made it 3-0 by the break. She decided to turn defensive which could have ended in disaster for her.
Sarita managed two points and could have turned it into an upset if she had scored one more. In a battle between Indians, Roublejit Singh Rangi got the better of Mandeep to put the Hammers back in the lead. Roublejit took a 1-point advantage into the break, and gave the Hammers an unassailable 5-3 lead. UP won the last bout, with Bajrang Punia downing a valiant Harphool Gulia 5-3. Harphool started on the front foot but Bajrang quickly made it 4-1 before winning 8-1.
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