DILLI VEER rode on a superb performance from World Championship silver medallist Navruzov Ikhtiyor to register their maiden victory in their last league encounter by edging past Bengaluru Yodhas 4-3 in a keenly fought Pro Wrestling League (PWL) encounter at the Koramangala Indoor Stadium here on Wednesday.
Both teams were locked 3-3 before Ikhtiyor (men's 65kg) overpowered the talented Bajrang Punia 10-1 in the last bout of the day to take Dilli Veer to victory.
Dilli Veer thus completed the league stage at the fifth position in the six-team PWL table. They took two points from their only win in the tournament, the same as Uttar Pradesh Warriors (UPW). But Dilli (-7) are ahead of bottom-placed UPW (-13) on points difference.
Wednesday's defeat will have no effect on the Yodhas' prospects in the tournament -- apart from some hurt pride in front of their home crowd -- as they had already cemented their spot in the semi-finals.
They are currently fourth on the table with four points from their five league engagements. Mumbai Garuda (8 points), Haryana Hammers (6) and Punjab Royals (6) occupy the top three positions.
Thursday's contest between Haryana and Mumbai -- the last of the league stage -- will determine the semi-final line-up.
Dilli Veer were handed the early lead by Erdenebat Bekhbayar as the 2015 World Championship bronze medallist from Mongolia outclassed Bengaluru's Sandeep Tomar 7-0 in the men's 57kg division.
Liliya Horishna beat Bengaluru's Lalita Sherawat 11-6 in the women's 53kg section to increase Dilli's lead.
Liliya was off to a 5-0 lead early on. But Lalita fought back to take a 6-5 lead before Liliya fought back to claim a 7-6 advantage at the break. The Ukrainian did not concede any points in the second round and was clearly the superior wrestler.
Davit Modzmanashvili pulled one back for Bengaluru as he overpowered Krishan Kumar of Dilli Veer by technical superiority (10-0) in the men's 125kg category.
Davit showcased awesome strength, using the Fitley move to wrap up the issue within 64 seconds of the opening round.
Yuliya Ratkevich (women's 58kg) brought Bengaluru back on level terms with an upset 3-1 win over current World Champion Yesilirmak Elif Jale of Dilli Veer.
Trailing 0-1 after the opening round, the Swedish girl fought back in the second period and snatched the winning points in the last minute of the bout.
Bengaluru's captain and icon player Narsingh Pancham Yadav put the hosts in the lead by outclassing Dilli Veer's Dinesh Kumar 8-4 in the men's 74kg category.
Dinesh produced a successful counter-attack and pushed Narsingh out of the playing area to draw first blood. He then used the single leg hold to bring down Narsingh to take two more points.
But Narsingh fought back in the last minute of the first round to lead 4-3 at the break. Narsingh -- the only Indian medallist at this year's World Championships -- showcased superb technique in the second round to clinch a dominant victory and maintain his all-win record in the PWL.
Commonwealth Games champion Vinesh Phogat (women's 48kg) equalised for Dilli Veer as she produced an upset by outclassing Alyssa Lampe of Bengaluru by technical superiority (10-0).
It all boiled down to the final bout of the day and Ikhtiyor silenced the raucous home crowd in the packed stadium by outwrestling Punia of Bengaluru 10-1 in the men's 65kg class.
Punia took a one-point lead early on, but his Uzbek opponent used the single leg hold on two occasions to take a 3-1 lead by the end of the first round.
Punia was more aggressive in the second, but Ikhtiyor produced a successful defence against an attempted Fitley move to pick up a couple of points more. He continued to pick up the points with his superior technique to complete a convincing victory.