RIDING HIGH AFTER A DOMINATING victory over Punjab Royals, Bengaluru Yodhas will look to cap off the league stage of the Pro Wrestling League (PWL) with a win as they gear up to face Dilli Veer at the Koramangala Indoor Stadium here on Wednesday evening.
The Yodhas have already booked a spot in the semi-finals of the inaugural edition of the PWL, courtesy of Dill Veer's loss to the Mumbai Garudas on Monday night. Currently in third place on the table with four points from four games, Bengaluru Yodhas are riding high while Dilli Veer languish at the bottom, winless after four matches.
Having dismantled Punjab Royals 5-2 in their previous engagement, Yodhas coach Kuldeep Malik said that his team's aim would be to carry the same momentum and exhibit the ruthlessness that brought them success against the Royals.
"On Sunday night, we fought hard. We knew that we had to win and every wrestler on the team stepped up and took responsibility. Everyone is in a positive frame of mind after that result and I am confident that we will put up another strong display against Dilli Veer," he said in a statement.
Icon player Narsingh Yadav's form has been instrumental for the Yodhas this season. The 74 kg 2015 World Championship bronze medallist has not lost a single bout so far and the 26-year-old is confident of continuing in the same vein.
"My performance in this competition has been very encouraging and has helped boost my confidence. I have wrestled against some of the top domestic contenders in the 74 kg category and also against a seasoned foreign wrestler. I believe that I can continue this run and drive my team towards victory," he said.
Dilli Veer are the only team not to have picked up any points so far. However, Narsingh warned the Yodhas against any possible complacency against the team from the capital on the eve of the match.
"Yes, they (Dilli Veer) have not had the best of tournaments. However, they are still a dangerous team. They have wrestlers in their ranks who can hurt us and we need to be on our guard against them. Having said that, we can take a lot of heart from the way we won the last match even after the coin toss went against us. It will be a tough encounter but I think with us playing in our home stadium, we will have a slight advantage," he said.
The icon player for Dilli Veer, 48 kg female wrestler Vinesh Phogat is enjoying a strong tournament with four wins out of as many bouts. On Wednesday night, she will be up against 2013 World Championship bronze medallist Alyssa Lampe in what promises to be an entertaining clash.
In the 53 kg category, Yodhas' Lalita Sehrawat will face Ukraine's Liliya Horishna while Yuliya Ratkevich will take on Turkey's Elif Jale Yesilirmak in the 58 kg weight class. Navjot Kaur, who sat out the contest against Punjab Royals, will face Nikki in the 75 kg division.
In the men's draw, Sandeep Tomar, who put up a valiant fight against World Champion Vladimir Khinchegashvili on Sunday, will lock horns with Mongolia's Erdenbat Bekhbayar in the 57 kg category. Bajrang Punia will face World Championship silver medallist Navruzov Ikhtiyor of Uzbekistan in the 65 kg category while icon player Narsingh battles Dinesh Kumar in the 74 kg contest.
Yodhas' Ukrainian wrestler, Pavlo Oliiynik is expected to come up against National Games gold medallist Gurpal Singh in the 97 kg category while Davit Modzmanashvili will grapple with Krishan Kumar in the 125 kg division.
Bajrang, who was blocked by Punjab Royals in the previous match, said that the prospect of facing the decorated Ikhtiyor was something that he was looking forward to and hoped that the Bengaluru crowd would turn up in numbers to support the Yodhas.
"Ikhtiyor is a very good wrestler but having analysed his previous bouts, I will have a few tricks up my sleeve. It is great for my preparation and development that I am getting the chance to face such high-quality wrestler in the PWL and I am sure that the entire team will put up a good show for our fans in Bengaluru," he said.