Jaipur Ninjas registered a narrow 4-3 win over UP Dangal to book a berth in the semi-finals of the Pro Wrestling League Season 2 at the K D Jadhav Indoor Stadium here on Thursday.
UP won the toss and decided to block the 57kg Men’s category, thereby preventing Jaipur’s impressive Indian grappler Utkarsh Kale from participating in the tie. UP blocked the 75kg Women’s category, as Jaipur’s key player Jenny Fransson had to sit out.
With this victory, Jaipur Ninjas became the first team to qualify for the semi-finals of PWL 2 with six points out of their four games.
Meanwhile, just two days after being declared fit, star wrestler Geeta Phogat shied away from taking the mat once again for UP Dangal, this time also on “medical grounds”. In her place UP Dangal fielded Manisha, who had lost her previous bout 1-9 to Mumbai Maharathi’s Sarita.
The real-life ‘Dangal’ girl is yet to feature in this PWL season. Her weight category, women’s 58kg, was blocked by her own team in the opening match against Haryana Hammers, while in the second match against Mumbai Maharathi, she pulled out citing high fever. In the third match, Punjab Royals blocked Geeta’s weight category after she was declared fit to play.
UP Dangal are now left with just one more match as they are have failed to make it to the semi-finals. It would be interesting to see if Geeta is able to make herself available for the tie against Delhi Sultans, where she would be taking on Rio Olympics bronze medallist Sakshi Malik.
Thursday’s contest began with a tight bout between two Georgian wrestlers, Tariel Gaphrindashvili from UP and Jakob Makarashvili from Jaipur where the latter won 6-4.
Jaipur’s Pooja Dhanda took on UP youngster Manisha in the 58 kg Women’s category and ended with a dominant 8-4 victory.
UP made a comeback in the match as Andrey Kviatkovski prevailed over Jaipur’s Rahul Mann in a closely fought 65 kg Men’s category bout.
Jaipur responded strongly as Venezuelan wrestler Betzabeth Arguello handed a 8-1 defeat to UP’s Pinki, who has replaced Babita Kumari for the remainder of the league.
aipur captain Elizbar Odikadze clinched the tie in his team’s favour as he defeated UP’s Mausam Khatri 5-2 in the 97 kg heavyweight Men’s category and continued his unbeaten run in the tournament so far.
The most exciting and action-packed bout of the evening was played out between UP Captain Elitsa Yankova and Jaipur’s Ritu Phogat. Yankova, who won bronze at the 2016 Olympics, was defensive to begin with but came on her own after the first round and won 12-8.
UP Dangal salvaged some pride by scoring their third win of the evening as Amit Dhankar overcame a strong challenge from Jaipur’s Vinod Kumar Omprakash to win 4-2 in the 70 kg Men’s category.