MUMBAI GARUDAS became champions of the inaugural edition of the Pro Wrestling League (PWL) defeating Haryana Hammers 7-2 in an exciting final at the KD Jadhav Wrestling Stadium in New Delhi on Sunday evening.
The Garudas, who had won all their matches on their way to the summit clash, thus maintained their unbeaten record in the tournament.
Egged on by the noisy, boisterous capacity crowd, Haryana had taken a 2-1 lead in the early stages of the nine-bout contest. But Mumbai made a superb comeback by winning four consecutive bouts thanks to strong performances from three-time World Champion Adeline Gray (women's 69kg), Odunayo Adekuoroye (women's 53kg), Giorgi Sakandelidze (men's 125kg) and Elizbar Odikadze (men's 97kg).
The Hammers were without the services of 2012 London Olympics medallist Yogeshwar Dutt, who was ruled out due to injury. The absence of their icon player cost Haryana dearly in the end.
Bengaluru Yodha's Narsingh Pancham Yadav (men's 74kg) and Odunayo, both of whom won all their bouts in the tournament, were declared the best male and female wrestlers respectively of the inaugural PWL.
Yogeshwar was adjudged the best mentor of the tournament.
Mumbai were off to a superb start as Amit Dhankar outgrappled Vishal Rana of Haryana by technical superiority (12-2) in the men's 65kg event.
Dhankar took a 2-0 lead with a takedown and soon proceeded to make it 8-0 with a single leg tackle and a Fitley move. The former Asian champion completed the victory within eight seconds of the second bout with a quick takedown.
Five-time World Champion Oksana Herhel equalised for Haryana by defeating Sakshi Malik by fall in the women's 58kg section. Sakshi started well by taking a 4-0 lead, but the reigning World Champion showed her class soon enough by pinning her to the mat.
Olympics and World Championship medallist Levan Lopez Azcuy (men's 74kg) put Haryana in the lead, overcoming an impressive performance by a relatively inexperienced youngster in Mumbaia's Pardeep by a 11-6 margin.
Lopez took the lead with a single leg hold. But Pardeep made a superb comeback by taking a four points with a takedown. But Lopez made full use of his superior experience to level at 6-6 by the break.
Adeline equalised for the Garudas by defeating Geetika Jakhar by technical superiority (10-0) in the women's 69kg section. The reigning World Champion
Sakandelidze virtually blew away the challenge from Haryana's Hitender in the men's 125kg division by recording a comprehensive technical superiority (10-0) victory to give Mumbai the lead once again. The Georgian giant imposed his technical and physical superiority right from the start and clinched victory within two minutes and 27 seconds of the first session.
Odunayo bolstered Mumbai's lead by brushing aside Tatiana Kit of Haryana 9-0. The Nigerian opened up a 5-0 lead in the first round and continued to dominate after the break.
Elizbar silenced the noisy partisan crowd when he clinched the issue for Mumbai by defeating Andriitesey Valerii of Haryana 6-4 in the men's 97kg bout. The Georgian thus avenged the loss that he had suffered at the hands of Valerii when the teams faced off in the league stage.
Elizbar took two points early on with a takedown. Valerii attempted a comeback with a hold to the waist, but Elizbar produced a superb counter-attack to lead 4-2 by the break. Valerii took two points in the closing stages with a pushout, but it did not prove to be enough.
Ritu Phogat (women's 48kg) and Rahul Aware (men's 57kg) took hard-fought victories in their respective bouts to rub salt into Haryana's wounds.