Mumbai Garuda led by their icon player Adeline Gray, who is a three-time world champion in women’s wrestling, showed greater technical ability to win the opening encounter of the Pro Wrestling League against Punjab Royals 5-2.
The first bout between Punjab Royals’ Vladimer Khinchegashvili and Mumbai’s Rahul Aware was stopped after 19 seconds as a technical problem had the broadcasters searching for answers. The match was started again after a brief halt, and Khinchegashvili blanked Aware 6-0.
The number of halts in the bouts delayed proceedings, and were hotly contested. A case in point is the bout between Punjab’s icon Geeta Phogat and Mumbai’s Sakshi Malik. Both coaches put in challenges which meant a normal seven-and-a-half minute bout – two rounds of three minutes each plus 90 seconds of break – stretched well beyond 15 minutes. The broadcast crew had to ask the jury and expert panel to rush the verdict as the delay was eating into the time allocated for live coverage.
Sakshi, who celebrated her 24th birthday on Thursday, edged out Geeta by winning on technical points in a clutch, after the match was tied 8-8 after regulation period.
The other evenly fought bout was between Mumbai’s Pradeep and Punjab’s Praveen Rana. The delays meant the 5000-capacity KD Jadhav arena was near-empty when the 125kg match between Jargalsaikhan Chuluunbat of Punjab and Levan Berianidze started.
Gray said the opening night left a good impression. “I did not know what to expect when I agreed to play. But I am happy to be a part of it and we have an awesome team,” she said after the win. Team coach Mahavir Singh said he was confident the team could reach the semifinal.
Results: (57kg) Vladimir Khinchegashvili (Punjab) beat Rahul Aware (Mumbai) 6-0, (74kg) Parveen Rana (Punjab) beat Pardeep (Mumbai) 5-5, (97kg) Mausam Khatri (Punjab) lost to Odikadze Elizbar (Mumbai) 3-8, (125kg) Jargalsaikhan Chuluunbat (Punjab) vs Levan Berianidze (Mumbai) 1-2, (53kg) Priyanka Phogat (Punjab) lost to Odunayo Adekuoroye (Mumbai) 2-10, (58kg) Geeta Phogat (Punjab) lost to Sakshi Malik (Mumbai) 8-8, (69kg) Vasilisa Marzaliuk (Punjab) lost to Adeline Gray (Mumbai) 1-10.