PRO Wrestling League’s new entrant Jaipur Ninjas continued their brilliant run in the ongoing second edition of the tournament with a 4-3 win over Delhi Sultans, led by star Indian wrestler Sakshi Malik.
Jaipur had it easy against Delhi as they rode on the brilliant performance by the Georgian duo of Elizbar Odikadze and Jakob Makarashvili, Olympic medallist Jenny Fransson and emerging Indian wrestler Vinod Kumar Omprakash to take an unassailable 4-1 lead after five bouts out of a total seven, but all eyes were set on Rio Olympics bronze medallist Sakshi Malik to restore pride for Delhi Sultans.
Having already lost the match to Jaipur, the onus was on Delhi Sultans’ captain Sakshi, India’s first ever woman wrestler to win an Olympic medal, to give her team something to cheer about and she did not disappoint.
It was the tie that the noisy full house crowd at the KD Jadhav Wrestling Stadium was waiting for and Sakshi showed her mettle with an 8-0 lead over another Indian Pooja Dhanda after the first round in women’s 58kg weight division.
Starting off with a point, she studied her rival carefully before pinning her down and flipping her over to take a huge opening round lead.
Having taken the mat for the first time after the Rio Games, Sakshi never looked as if she was away from the arena for so long, as the 24-year-old kept increasing the points in the second round as well and won it 16-0 via technical superiority in 5 minutes and 32 seconds. The 2014 senior Asian bronze medallist Pooja proved to be a cropper against her much superior Indian colleague.
Earlier, Sakshi’s fiance Satyawart Kadian, who is also representing Delhi Sultans, could hardly pose a threat to Elizbar Odikadze of Georgia in the men’s 97kg weight division in the first bout of the evening.
Satyawart, who had gone down to Elizbar in season one, faced the same fate this time around as well, getting thrashed 0-8 at the hands of the Georgian grappler. With Elizbar’s win, Jaipur took an early 1-0 lead.
The next bout was a much anticipated one with two-time Olympic silver medallist Mariya Stadnik of Azerbaijan facing 2016 Commonwealth champion Ritu Phogat, the youngest of Mahavir Singh Phogat’s daughters. Post the success of Aamir Khan starrer Bollywood movie Dangal, a story on Geeta and Babita Phogat and their hard taskmaster father Mahavir Singh, Phogat sisters are under the spotlight.
Ritu, with her limited international exposure, tried hard but failed to match up to the three-time Olympic medallist and went down 0-16 in just 3 minutes and 20 seconds in women’s 48kg.
Delhi’s trump card Mariya posted the victory via technical superiority just 20 seconds into the second round to level the scores 1-1. In the first round, Mariya had acquired six points, even as Ritu showed some resistance, but in round two, the Azerbaijani took just 20 seconds to gain 10 points at a stretch to wrap up the contest in style.