In keeping with the expectations, Yogeshwar Dutt-led Haryana Hammers made a winning start by beating Delhi Veer 5-2 in the Pro Wrestling League here on Saturday.

After Haryana took the unbeatable lead following the fifth bout, Yogeshwar outwitted the reigning World championship finalist Uzbekistan’s Ikhtiyor Navruzov 3-2 in the evening’s final bout.

Although Yogeshwar prevailed, he looked tired midway through the first round but commendably kept his seasoned rival at bay during the six-minute contest. However, it remains to be seen how many appearances Yogeshwar can make in the remaining four league outings.

Yogeshwar was candid in admitting that “it takes time to regain total fitness” following the knee-injury that kept him away from competitions since claiming the gold in the Glasgow Commonwealth Games last year.

“I think, our only serious challenger (in the fray) is Bengaluru. We have a very good team and nothing less than a title-winning performance will make our franchisee happy. We are confident of winning the league,” declared Yogeshwar.

Earlier, Haryana was off to a flying start with Cuba’s World and Olympic medallist Livan Lopez Azcuy outwitting Dinesh Kumar. But Delhi was quick to draw level when Gurpal Singh raced away to a 11-0 victory over his Argentine rival Yuri Maier, considered by Yogeshwar as the weak link of the team.

World champion Oksana Herhel, the lady to attract the highest bid in this edition, performed her reputation and won ‘by fall’ against World championship bronze medallist Yesilirmak Elif Jale to again put Haryana ahead.

Hitender consolidated the lead to 3-1 following a close contest with Krishan Kumar. The 7-4 victory for Hitender meant Geetika Jakhar could seal the match for Haryana by stopping Nikki.

Geetika did just that after bouncing back to tie with Nikki 2-2. Since Geetika scored her two points after Nikki gained point after point, she was adjudged the champion.

With the tie already decided, 2014 Commonwealth Games gold medallist Delhi’s Vinesh Phogat toyed with Nirmala Devi to reduce the margin, with the score-line margin being 10-0, before Yogeshwar put the finishing touches to the team’s triumph.

The caravan now moves to Ludhiana.


(Weight categories blocked: Men’s 57-kg and Women’s 53-kg): Haryana Hammers beat Delhi Veer (Men’s 74-kg: Livan Lopez Azcuy bt Dinesh Kumar 7-0; Men’s 97-kg: Yuri Maier lost to Gurpal Singh 0-11; Women’s 58-kg: Oksana Herhel bt Elif Jale Yesilirmak by fall; Men’s 125-kg: Hitender bt Krishan Kumar 7-4; Women’s 69-kg: Geetika Jakhar bt Nikki 2-2 (by bigger hold); Women’s 48-kg: Nirmala Devi lost to Vinesh Phogat 10-0; Men’s 65-kg: Yogeshwar Dutt bt Ikhtiyor Navruzov 3-2).