Garuda finish with a flourish

Wrestling PWL : Mumbai outfit nail Haryana Hammers 4-3 in final league tie

Garuda finish with a flourish

 Mumbai Garuda ended their league campaign with a perfect five-out-of-five wins as they put in a dominating performance to defeat second-placed Haryana Hammers 4-3 in the final league fixture of the Pro Wrestling League at the Koramangala Indoor Stadium on Thursday.

By virtue of their win, Garuda finished on top of the table but will still be unsure of their semifinal opponents. Although the Pro Wrestling League website stated that they will play the second-placed team, Haryana Hammers, the organisers were huddled at a meeting late on Thursday to rework the semifinal line-up.

Garuda and Hammers finished first and second while Punjab Royals finished third and Bengaluru Yodhas grabbed the last semifinal spot in fourth.

Mumbai came into the match with an unblemished record, while Haryana looked to cause an upset. The game was poised on a knife edge at 2-2 when Giorgi Sakandelidze thrashed Hammers' Hitender 10-0 in the men's 125 kg category to give his side an advantage they did not relinquish.

“Giorgi's win was vital to us. There were a couple of games after his which could have gone either way. So his win proved to be a real boost for the side,” said Adeline Gray, skipper of Mumbai Garuda.

Haryana missed their skipper and 2012 Olympics bronze medallist Yogeshwar Dutt due to injury in the 65 kg men's category and Oksana Herhel of Ukraine stepped in.

The Mumbai side began in fine fashion as Rahul Aware toppled Nitin 7-2 in the first bout – men's 57 kg category. Hammers responded immediately with their skipper Herhel scoring a laboured 4-2 victory over Sakshi Malik in the women's 58 kg bout.

Herhel had run away with a 4-0 lead after the first round but Malik then showed stomach for a fight to begin round two well but she eventually fell short.

With the score 1-1, Hammers' Livan Lopez Azcuy brushed aside Pardeep Kumar to get a comprehensive 11-0 win in the men's 74 kg category. Pardeep was on the back foot from the start and hardly threatened the powerful Cuban.

Next on the mat was Gray, who took on the formidable Geetika Jakhar in the women's 69+ kg category. Gray held a slender 3-0 advantage in the first round. The American raised her game in the second and caught Jakhar unawares. She then strolled to a 7-1 victory, with Jakhar's only point coming by virtue of a technical foul.

This was when Sakandelidze scored his 10-0 victory over Hitender and with two bouts left, Garuda were ahead 3-2. A tense battle ensued thereafter between Hammers' Nirmal Devi and Garuda’s Ritu Phogat in the women's 48 kg category, with the fortunes swinging both ways. In the last minute, Phogat, holding a single point advantage, defended resolutely to see out the tie at 5-4 and give her side a winning 4-2 advantage. In the inconsequential final bout Hammers' Andriitesey Valerii edged Odikadze Elizbar 2-1.
The semifinals and finals are in Delhi from Friday.

Results: Haryana Hammers lt to Mumbai Garuda 3-4 (Categories blocked: Men: 65 kg and Women's 53-kg): Men’s 57 kg: Nitin lt to Rahul Aware 2-7; 74-kg: Livan Lopez bt Pardeep 11-0; 97 kg: Andriitesey Valerii bt Odikadze Elizbar 2-1; 125 kg: Hitender lost to Giorgi Sakandelidze 0-10. Women: 48 kg: Nirmal Devi lt to Ritu Phogat 4-5; 58 kg: Oksana Herhel bt Sakshi Malik 4-2; 69+ kg: Geetika Jakhar lt to Adeline Gray 1-7.

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