NCR Punjab Royals were crowned the champions of the Patanjali Powervita Pro Wrestling League Season 2 as they triumphed over two-time finalists Haryana Hammers 5-4 in an action packed evening at the K D Jadhav Indoor Stadium.The winners were presented with the Champions trophy along with a prize money of whopping 1 crore and 90 lacs. The runners up took home a prize money of 1 crore and 10 lacs.Supporting Haryana Hammers were a host of celebrities, including tinsel town’s Sonali Bendre, her husband and co-owner, Haryana Hammers Goldie Behl, and cricketer Ishant Sharma. Bollywood actor Bobby Deol turned up in NCR Punjab Royals colours to support his team. Prakash Javadekar, Minister HRD also graced the event with his presence.The evening got off to an explosive start as Haryana captain Abdusalam Gadisov came out firing all cylinders against Punjab’s Krishan Kumar in the 97 kg Men’s heavyweight category. Gadisov denied his opponent any opportunity to score a point as he effected multiple takedowns and a series of rollovers to accumulate points rapidly. The Russian grappler gave his team an ideal start as he won 15-0 by virtue of Technical Superiority.
Tunisia’s Marwa Amri strengthened Haryana’s position further as she defeated Punjab’s Manju Kumari 12-0 in the 58 kg Women’s category. Amri, who has remained unbeaten in PWL 2 so far, signaled her intentions early on as she took down Manju and rolled her over to garner points. A push out and a couple of takedowns ensured Amri, a 2016 Olympics Bronze medalist finished unbeaten in the tournament, as Haryana went 2-0 up in the tie.Punjab Captain Vladimir Khinchegashvili brought his team back in the hunt with a 3-0 victory over Haryana’s Sandeep Tomar in the 57 kg Men’s category. Tomar, who had earlier defeated the 2016 Olympics Gold medalist from Georgia, began with positive intent even as Khinchegashvili managed to get a takedown. Although Tomar kept applying the pressure, Khinchegashvili emerged as the stronger opponent as Punjab won their first bout of the evening and the Georgian grappler settled scores with his Haryana counterpart.The next bout saw an intriguing contest between Haryana’s Magomed Kurbanaliev and Punjab’s Pankaj Rana in the 70 kg Men’s category. Pankaj effected an early takedown to surprise Kurbanaliev but the Russian recovered quickly, using a single leg hold to flip over Pankaj and effect a takedown, almost achieving a Pin Fall in the process. Kurbanaliev continued to effect takedowns even as Pankaj made brave attempts, giving the Russian grappler a run for his money. Although Kurbanaliev was made to work hard for his points, he prevailed eventually, winning by a 9-4 margin.
Punjab’s Vasilisa Marzaliuk arrested Haryana’s momentum with a 5-0 victory over her opponent Kiran in the 75 kg Women’s category. Kiran was up against an experienced campaigner in the Belarus-born grappler, as Marzaliuk managed to take her down on a couple of occasions, including a decisive one in the final few seconds of the bout. With this victory, Punjab kept their hopes alive as they trailed 2-3 to Haryana.Russian grappler Ilias Bekbulatov, who replaced the injured Togrul Asgarov in the Punjab camp, came down with an aggressive maneuver against Haryana’s Rajneesh, as he effected a strong takedown and coupled it with a series of rollovers. Rajneesh sustained an injury in the maneuver and was unable to take the mat after this, following which he decided to give a Walkover. Bekbulatov won the 65 kg Men’s category 13-0 by virtue of Rajneesh’s Walkover. Punjab had levelled the tie 3-3.
The following bout was an intriguing battle between two champion wrestlers, Haryana’s 2016 Olympics Bronze medalist Sofia Mattsson and Punjab’s Odunayo Folasade Adekuoroye, who has remained unbeaten in PWL history. As both wrestlers took the mat in a fight for the top honour, an interesting contest ensued as neither wrestler could find a weak link in their opponent’s armour. Mattsson was awarded a point for passivity as she took a slender 1-0 lead over Adekuoroye going into the second round. The Nigerian wrestler was awarded a penalty point soon after following which both wrestlers were locked in a stranglehold, as they used all tricks in their books to effect a takedown.Adekuoroye kept up the pressure and was able to effect a takedown immediately afterwards, but Mattsson proved equal to the task as she flipped her opponent over to draw level at 3-3. A push out in the final second by Adekuoroye was not awarded points by the referee, following which a protest from Punjab ensued that was turned down. As a result, a point was awarded to Mattsson and she won 4-3 in the 43 kg Women’s category.
Punjab’s Nirmla Devi triumphed over Haryana’s Indu Chaudhary 5-2, settling scores for her earlier defeat against the same opponent in the 48 kg Women’s category. After getting a point due to Indu’s passivity, Nirmla displayed some aggressive grappling, taking down her opponent and combining it with a rollover, almost pinning her down in the process. Nirmla’s victory paved way for an exiting finish to the Final as the tie scores stood at 4-4.The final bout of the evening was the deciding bout as Haryana’s Sumit Sehrawat locked horns with Punjab’s Jitendra in the 74 kg Men’s category. Although the contest went down to the wire, the scales were tilted in Jitendra’s favour as he effected multiple takedowns to accumulate points at a rapid pace and take the game away from Sumit, eventually winning with a 10-1 margin. With this victory, Punjab were crowned the Champions of the Pro Wrestling League Season 2.Speaking on the victory, captain for Punjab, Vladimir said, “Its been a great pleasure all this time, being here in PWL and now becoming champions is immense pleasure. Our goal has been achieved. This team was great with very strong wrestlers. Really happy!”
Commenting on her performance, Nirmala had to say, “I just knew today that no matter what I have to win my match because each bout will be helping the team become champions. I wouldn’t care even if I die but victory was all that I was looking for.” Odunayo- Sofia is a good wrestler but am good too. The next fight between me and her will be really exciting and difficult.Jitendra- there was a lot of pressure and I knew if I don’t make it my team would not become champions. My focus and energy was all set to win my match.