Pro Wrestling League: Jaipur beat UP to enter semis
New Delhi, Jan 12 (IANS) Jaipur Ninjas edged out over Uttar Pradesh Dangal 4-3 at the KD Jadhav Indoor Stadium here on Thursday to seal a spot in the semi-finals of the ongoing second edition of the Pro Wrestling League (PWL).
Jaipur thus became the first team to qualify for the semi-finals with six points from four games.
They share the lead with Punjab Royals and Haryana Hammers who have played four and three matches respectively.
UP won the toss and decided to block the 57 kg men’s category, thereby preventing Jaipur’s impressive Indian grappler Utkarsh Kale from participating in the tie.
UP blocked the 75 kg women’s category, forcing Jaipur’s key player Jenny Fransson to sit out.
The evening commenced with a tight bout between two Georgian wrestlers, Tariel Gaphrindashvili of UP and Jaipur’s World Cup bronze medallist Jakob Makarashvili in the men’s 74 kg division.
The experienced Makarashvili held his nerve to keep an attacking Gaphrindashvili at bay to win 6-4 and hand the early lead to Jaipur.
UP, who are yet to win a tie in PWL 2, banked on Gaphrindashvili’s youth and exuberance against the more seasoned Makarashvili.
Although Gaphrindashvili used a double leg hold to score points, Makarashvili turned it around and took him down, getting a 2-0 lead going into the second round.
Gaphrindashvili began the next round aggressively, taking down Makarashvili, before the latter effected two clean takedowns to establish the lead.
Jaipur’s Pooja Dhanda took on UP youngster Manisha in the women’s 58 kg category and ended with a dominant 8-4 victory.
Manisha, who replaced star wrestler Geeta Phogat for the tie, found the going difficult as the more experienced Dhanda scored points with decisive attacking moves.
However, Manisha was quick to take advantage of a lapse by Dhanda, who lost her grip while attempting a rollover, to bridge the deficit.
While she fought with much resolve in the dying moments of the match, she was unable to score big as Dhanda secured the win.
UP made a comeback as Andrey Kviatkovski prevailed over Jaipur’s Rahul Mann in a closely fought men’s 65 kg bout.
Rahul scored early with a takedown that surprised Kviatkovski but the Ukrainian wrestler settled scores with a takedown from a standing position to win 8-4.
Jaipur retorted strongly as Venezuelan wrestler Betzabeth Arguello handed a 8-1 defeat to UP’s Pinki — who has replaced Babita Kumari for the remainder of the league – in the women’s 53kg category.
Although Pinki went into the second round leading 1-0, the Jaipur grappler stunned her with a clean takedown from a standing position to score a four-pointer and followed it with another takedown coupled with a rollover to emerge victorious.
Jaipur captain Elizbar Odikadze clinched the for his team’s by defeating UP’s Mausam Khatri 5-2 in the men’s 97 kg category and to continue his unbeaten run in the tournament.
The Georgian wrestler displayed his prowess on the mat in the very first round, managing to push out Khatri from the protected zone before recovering well to defend his opponent’s attack, turning it into a takedown and rolling over Khatri to establish a comfortable lead.
Khatri attempted to score points towards the end, but Odikadze held firm, leading Jaipur to an unassailable 4-1 lead in the tie.
The most exciting and action-packed bout of the evening was played out between UP captain Elitsa Yankova and Jaipur’s Ritu Phogat in the women’s 48kg category.
Yankova, who tookbronze at the 2016 Olympics, was defensive to begin with but came on her own after the first round, taking down Phogat to open her scoring.
Phogat provided stiff resistance and pulled off a couple of takedowns to make things difficult for Yankova.
This brought out the best in the Bulgarian wrestler, as she exhibited tremendous technique to take down Phogat and effect two successive rollovers, gaining a clear lead.
Even as Phogat tried hard to deny the inevitable, Yankova continued to dominate and completed a 12-8 victory.
UP Dangal salavaged some pride by scoring their third win of the evening, as Amit Dhankar overcame a strong challenge by Jaipur’s Vinod Kumar Omprakash to win 4-2 in the men’s 70 kg category.
Dhankar’s takedowns and rollovers made him emerge as the victor, even as Jaipur won the tie.