PWL: Punjab Royals toy with UP Dangal

With Geeta Phogat's weight category (58kg) blocked, Punjab rode on captain Vladimir Khinchegashvili (57kg) and Nigerian Odunayo Adekuoroye (women 53kg) to beat IP Dangal 5-2 to go on top of the points table.

Punjab captain Vladimir Khinchegashvili of Georgia defeated Amit Kumar Dahiya 6-2 in the 57kg category.   -  REUTERS

Geeta Phogat returned to the UP Dangal line-up but was still awaiting her first bout of the Pro Wrestling League even as Punjab Royals notched up its third victory, winning 5-2 to go on top of the points table here on Tuesday. UP is yet to win a tie in this competition.

While Geeta’s weight category (58kg) was blocked, Punjab rode on captain Vladimir Khinchegashvili (57kg) and Nigerian Odunayo Adekuoroye (women 53kg) to dominate the proceedings. With both wrestlers unbeaten so far, Punjab always had the upper hand.

Khinchegashvili gave it the perfect start, winning 6-2 against Amit Kumar Dahiya in the opening bout. The Georgian, in fact, appeared to play around with the 2012 London Olympian, provoking him but turning Dahiya around and scooping up the points every time the Indian tried to attack. He relaxed in the last few seconds to concede a couple of points but the result was settled by then.

Odunayo, on the other hand, registered her third win by technical superiority (a margin of 15 points or higher) in as many bouts, wrapping up her fight against Pinki in five minutes 24 seconds.

Pinki, who replaced Babita, was no match for the Nigerian and was trailing 0-6 at the end of first round before being thrown down to the mat repeatedly as Odunayo raced to 16-0 victory.

The depth in Punjab’s line-up can be gauged from the fact that the team replaced its double Olympic medallist and one of the strongest contenders here — Toghrul Asgarov of Azerbaijan — without any setback as Russian Ilyas Bekbulatov managed to do his job nicely, winning 6-3 against Andrey Kviatkovski in the 65kg.

The only victories for UP came via its captain Elitsa Yankova, who managed to win 2-1 with the winning point coming as bonus after Nirmala Devi was penalised for her team’s challenge in the dying seconds of the game being rejected.

Amit Dhankar won the other bout for UP, dominating the experienced Pankaj Rana 13-5 in the 70kg category. Dhankar led 4-0 early on before Rana fought back to level scores. Thereafter, it was Dhankar all the way as the youngster kept pushing his opponent down to the mat repeatedly.

Vasilisa Marzaliuk beat Maria Mamashuk 3-1 in an all-Belarusian fight to win the women’s 75kg while Jitendra beat Tariel Gaprindashvili in the 74kg for other Punjab wins.

The results: Punjab Royals bt UP Dangal 5-2 [57kg: Vladimir Khinchegashvili bt Amit Kumar Dahiya; 48kg: Nirmala Devi lost to Elitsa Yankova; 74kg: Jitendra bt Tariel Gaprindashvili; 53kg: Odunayo Adekuoroye bt Pinki;