PWL: Bengaluru trumps Sushil-less Warriors

Bengaluru Yodhas made it look easy. Tipped as a serious contender for the inaugural Pro Wrestling League title, the Yodhas blitzed its way past UP Warriors for a 6-1 triumph, with a margin that is sure to send warning signals to other teams in the fray.

Bajrang Punia grapples Rahul Mann in the Men's 65-kg round.   -  PTI

Bengaluru Yodhas made it look easy. Tipped as a serious contender for the inaugural Pro Wrestling League title, the Yodhas blitzed its way past UP Warriors for a 6-1 triumph, with a margin that is sure to send warning signals to other teams in the fray.

Unlike the opening night, Friday saw sparsely-filled stands of the K. D. Jadhav Indoor Stadium. And those who hoped to Sushil Kumar in action were disappointed.

With Mongolia’s Unurbut Purvevjav, runner-up in this year’s World championship in the 74-kg class, formally replacing Sushil as the icon player of UP, the supporters of the two-time Olympic medallist were obviously sad. And as it turned out, UP came up with rather passive performance to lose without offering significant resistance.

Babita gets the only win for UP

Babita Kumari was the only one to win for UP and this result was in keeping with the expectations. By the time Babita put her side on the scoreboard, Bengaluru had taken a match-winning 4-0 lead.

Among the winners for Bengaluru, Narsingh Yadav had an added reason to celebrate. He outplayed Purvevjav 9-1 to avenge the defeat suffered in the World Championship semifinals in September.

“Revenge was clearly on my mind but equally, I had the home advantage,” said a candid Yadav after completing his team’s victory.

In fact, had Sushil chosen to be part of the team, he would have faced Narsingh Yadav. It may be recalled that, so far, Yadav is the only Indian wrestler to ensure a quota berth for India in next year’s Olympics in Rio.

Bajrang overpowers Rahul

Bajrang, the 2013 World championship bronze medallist, proved just too swift for Rahul Mann to walk away a 10-2 winner. This bout was also the most exciting one with Bajrang’s trademark aggression providing some thrills to those present in the stands. USA’s Alyssa Lampe, also a former World championship bronze medallist in the 48-kg class, bounced back to stop Ukraine’s Oleksandra Kogut, the 2010 World championship gold medallist.

Bengaluru’s coach Raj Singh said all the results were in keeping with the expectations. “If our girl lost to Babita, it was something we expected. Our all other wrestlers were favourite to win today.

Meanwhile, the organisers made a formal announcement regarding Sushil Kumar’s withdrawal from the league.

Addressing media persons here before the start of the match, PWL Governing Council member Rashmi Saluja explained, “Sushil had given the consent to be part of the league but he did not sign the franchisee contract. He had complete intent to play and he never objected to it. May be, getting the contract signed was a delayed process.”

The results (Weight categories blocked: Men’s 69-kg and Women’s 125-kg):

Bengaluru Yodhas beat UP Warriors 6-1 ( Men’s 57-kg: Sandeep Tomar bt Sergey Rutshniy 4-2; Men’s 65-kg: Bajrang Punia bt Rahul Mann 10-2; Women’s 48-kg: Alyssa Lampe bt Kogut Oleksandra 5-4; Men’s 97-kg: Pavlo Olynik bt Satyavrat Kadian 2-1; Women’s 53-kg: Lalita Sherawat lost to Babita Kumari 2-8; Women’s 58-kg: Yuliya Ratkevich bt Ritu Malik by fall; Women’s 74-kg: Narsingh Yadav bt Unurbut Purvejav 9-1).