A dream debut
The Pro Wrestling League has begun this season with all fervour! The inaugural match featured Haryana Hammers beating defending champions Mumbai Maharathis 4-3. Next, the action shifted to the national capital where the debutants Jaipur Ninjas have crushed the NCR Punjab Royals 5-2.
Jaipur Ninjas, on winning the toss blocked the men’s 65 kg category. Punjab, on the other hand did the same in the 48 kg women’s category. Jaipur Ninjas have the most expensive female wrestler, Ritu Phogat in their ranks. Along similar lines, the NCR Punjab Royals possess 2016 Olympics gold medalist Vladimir Khinchegashvili.
Reviewing the day’s action
The first bout was contested between Punjab’s Jitendra and Jaipur’s Jakob Makarashvili in the 74 kg category. The Georgian overcame an initial onslaught by the Indian through his vast experience, winning the bout 12-4.
The next bout featured two Indian wrestlers, Manju Kumari of Punjab and Pooja Dhanda of Jaipur. After a long stretch of inactivity, Pooja finally made a positive move, scoring 4 points to notch up a victory. This win in the 58 kg category gave the debutants a 2-0 lead.
The surprise package
The find for India and the surprise package was the Indian Utkarsh Kale. He gave the Punjab skipper Vladimir Khinchegashvili a run for his money. He began aggressively and even took the lead. Although the gold medalist staged a comeback, Utkarsh never hung his boots and kept on the relentless pressure.
In the next two bouts, 2016 Olympics Bronze medalist Jenny Fransson defeated Punjab’s Vasilisa Marzaliuk. Jaipur further built their lead with Vinod Kumar Omprakash from Jaipur winning against Punjab’s Pankaj Rana. This gave Jaipur an unassailable 4-1 lead.
The penultimate fight was the highlight of the day. Punjab’s Odunayo Adekuoroye, one of the stars of the inaugural season demolished Jaipur’s Betzabeth Arguello. She prevailed by technical superiority. However, things reversed in the final round, with Jaipur blanking out Punjab 12-0 this time around.
A happy Jaipur Ninjas’ coach
Reviewing the tie, Jaipur Ninjas coach Mahavir Singh said ” I believe he gave a tough fight. But I am happy with how Utkarsh performed. He is young and his speed is good, this will help us in matches further.”
To add up to the excitement of the tournament was Bollywood superstar Sunny Deol. He was seen rooting for the Punjab team at the K D Jadhav Indoor Stadium in New Delhi. Also, missing from action was the most expensive player of PWL Season 2, Ritu Phogat after being blocked by Punjab. Hopefully, she gets to grapple in the next bouts!