PWL: Begaluru, Mumbai in high voltage clash (Preview)

Ludhiana, Dec 13 (IANS) The Bengaluru Yodhas and Mumbai Garudas will aim to build on their winning start to the Pro Wrestling League (PWL) when they face off at the Shri Guru Nanak Stadium here on Monday evening.

Both teams won their opening matches during the first leg of the competition which was held at the KD Jhadav Wrestling Stadium in New Delhi.

The Yodhas had outclassed the Uttar Pradesh Warriors 6-1 while Mumbai had defeated Punjab Royals 5-2 in the tournament opener.

The Mumbai team are currently at the top of the PWL with 43 points. The Yodhas, meanwhile, are in second place with 36 points.

Bengaluru coach Kuldeep Malik said that the clash against Mumbai would perhaps be the sternest challenge that they would face over the course of the league.

“Both teams are extremely strong. The balance that Mumbai has in terms of consistent wrestlers across weight categories is one of the best in the league. We have prepared thoroughly for this match and I am confident that my team will pull off a positive result,” he was quoted as saying in a statement.

During their contest against the Warriors, all the Bengaluru wrestlers except for Lalita Sehrawat recorded convincing victories and the team’s morale is high as a result.

The Yodhas’ icon player Narsingh Yadav, who outclassed Mumbai’s Mongolian wrestler Purevjav Unurbat 9-1, said the win was bound to play a role in the mental make-up of his team.

“Every wrestler on our team is confident of doing well. All the seven wrestlers who competed in the last round put in encouraging performances. It is important that we do not lose focus and keep up the intensity. The PWL is a very short league and it is necessary to not slack after a victory. Mumbai Garudas have the potential to hurt us if we are not careful and we will need to be on top of our game if we expect to come out with the right result,” he said.

Monday’s clash throws up a number of interesting match-ups in both the men’s and women’s sections. In the men’s 57 kg category, the Yodhas’ Sandeep Tomar will square off against promising youngster Rahul Aware.

In the men’s 65kg, the talented Bajrang Punia will face former Asian champion Amit Dhankhar in what should be a riveting contest. Dhankhar will hold a slight advantage since the Mumbai wrestler has always competed in the 65kg category while Bajrang has moved into the category only recently.

In the men’s 74kg class, Narsingh Yadav will face Mumbai’s Pardeep with the Yodhas’ icon player expected to have the upper hand in the clash. It will be a clash of international wrestlers in the 97kg and 125kg categories. The Yodhas’ Pavlo Oliiynik has been drawn against Odikadze Elizbar of Georgia in the 97kg event while Davit Modzmanashvili, who was blocked in the Yodhas’ opener, will take on Mumbai’s Armenian grappler Levan Berianidze in the 125kg category.

In the women’s section, Alyssa Lampe of the US will face Ritu Phogat in the 48kg division while Lalita Sehrawat is up against the lanky Odunayo Adekouroye of Nigeria in the 53kg class. The Nigerian had defeated Sehrawat in the final of the 2014 Commonwealth Games in the same category and Lalita will be out looking for revenge.

Yuliya Ratkevich, the Yodhas’ representative in the 58kg will face off against Sakshi Malik while Mumbai’s icon player Adeline Gray will compete against Navjot Kaur of the Yodhas in the 75kg division.

With both teams evenly matched, coach Malik believed that the toss — with the winner getting the first right of blocking one of his opponent’s weight categories — would be crucial.

“Both teams are evenly matched and a lot will depend on the wrestlers that both teams decide to block. It will be a very close tie as both teams are evenly matched, the foreign wrestlers will make the difference,” he said.

Each wrestler can be blocked only twice over the league phase of the competition. In the previous match, Davit Modzmanashvili (125kg) and Navjot Kaur (75kg) had been blocked for the Yodhas while Amit Dhankhar (65kg) and Ritu Phogat (48kg) had sat out for the Mumbai team.

Mumbai’s icon player Adeline Gray indicated that her team was ready to consolidate their position at the top of the table but would have to be wary of the Yodhas in certain categories.

“The Bengaluru team showed in the previous match that most of their wrestlers are consistent and have managed to understand the format of the League better than their opponents. However, our performance in the first match has given us a lot of belief and we would look to carry that in to this game and hopefully earn another victory,” she said.

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