Rana-Sushil bout the cynosure in PWL

Stars aplenty as event kicks off today

Against a fiery backdrop, Indian wrestlers will gear up for the third edition of the Pro Wrestling League (PWL), which boasts participation of over 20 Olympic and World Championship medallists, starting from Tuesday.

The new entrants Veer Marathas unveiled their team here on Monday. They will open their campaign against last year's runners-up Haryana Hammers on Wednesday.

The Marathas will be spearheaded by three-time bronze medallist and current World Championship silver medallist Vasilisa Marzaliuk, 2016 Rio Olympics bronze medallist Marwa Amri and 2017 Commonwealth Wrestling Championship silver medallist Parveen Rana.

The presence of Rana, who was involved in an ugly duel with Sushil Kumar during the recently concluded Commonwealth Games trials, has put the focus on the team's clash with Delhi Sultan on January 21. The Delhi team features Sushil and the anticipated face-off between the two has become a talking point of the league.

Rana, 25, grabbed the spotlight when his supporters and Sushil's camp clashed with each other after the trial. Rana, whose elder brother suffered injuries during the incident, had claimed he was threatened before the nationals, where he had forfeited the final against the double Olympic medallist.

Rana on Monday alleged it was Sushil who told his supporters to go after him after the trials ended."The supporters, who were his family members, hit us on Sushil's behest," Rana said.

"I was wronged and I want to prove it. I went through the videos of my last bouts with him so that I can come back stronger against him. But it's not a do-or-die bout for me. If he is really good, he will be able to beat me. I have been in the team since 2008 but never such an incident happened. It's a sport, the best person should win and should be given a chance."

Rana questioned the intent of senior wrestler's participation in the Commonwealth Games. "For CWG, these popular wrestlers come into the limelight saying they want to perform for the country. Here even our third rung wrestlers are capable of winning the gold. If they want to perform, win medals why don't they participate in Asian Games and World Championships? It is because they know they can get their way in CWG, get money, and then stay away for three years," Rana said.

Meanwhile, Ritu Phogat, who is also a part of the franchise, said: "This year is very important for us. We will be fighting against world champions and Olympic medallists in the PWL and that will help us in the upcoming tournaments," she said.

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