Rajneesh upset all calculations to put an unbeaten Haryana Hammers on top of the table, defeating Delhi Sultans 4-3 for its third win in as many matches here on Wednesday. Delhi crashed out of the race for the knock-outs after losing all its three matches so far.
The youngster dominated the more-fancied Bajrang Punia 9-6 in the 65kg to put Haryana in a comfortable position after the teams were tied 2-2. An attacking Rajneesh, confident after having won both his bouts so far in the competition, took control early on, racing to a 4-0 lead before Punia fought back to reduce the margin to 4-3.
He looked to almost seal the win by pinning Rajneesh to the mat but the latter escaped and then piled on the points, taking Punia by surprise. Punia, considered a successor to Yogeshwar Dutt, also suffered from lack of match practice, having been blocked once and coming back from injury.
The gap kept increasing in the second round and even though Punia tried to attack, he was unable to get a proper grip on his opponent who took advantage to turn the tables and score a comprehensive win.
Rajneesh’s win made up for the absence of Swede Sofia Mattsson, who was blocked by Delhi but it mattered little in the end. Delhi further suffered the absence of an unfit Sakshi Malik and her replacement, Apoorva Tyagi was no match for Rio Olympic bronze medalist Marwa Amri.
The Tunisian wrapped up the proceedings by racing to 10-0 before pinning her opponent to the mat in one minute 18 seconds for the second fastest win in the competition. That bout also sealed the tie in Haryana’s favour, giving it an unbeaten 4-2 lead.
Abdusalam Gadisov of Russia started with an easy 9-0 win against Satyavart Kadian in the 97kg and compatriot Magomed Kurbanaliev beat Georgian David Tlashadze 6-2 in the 70kg for the other Haryana victories.
For Delhi, Mariya Stadnik of Azerbaijan continued her winning run, sweeping up points by throwing Indu Chaudhary in the 48kg around for a 16-0 win by technical superiority in one and a half minutes flat.
Alina Makhynia edged ahead 2-1 against Kiran in the 75kg while Sandeep Tomar fought back from a one point deficit at the end of Round One to register a thumping 8-3 win against Mongolian Erdenebat Bekhbayar in the 57kg for the other Delhi wins.
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