Punjab Royals beat defending champions Mumbai Maharathi 5-4 in the second semi-final on Wednesday to set a date with Haryana Hammers in the summit clash of the Pro Wrestling League (PWL).
In what turned out to be a see-saw contest, the fans were treated to some brilliant display of wrestling when the scoreboard drifted from one side to the other till the very end.
The fans were also treated to an exciting contest between Yoga Guru Baba Ramdev taking on 2008 Beijing silver medallist Andriy Stadnik in an exhibition bout.
Mumbai took the early lead with Jabrayil Hasanov winning the first bout of the evening against Jitendra 18-2 in the second round of the 74 kilogram weight category.
The Rio Olympics bronze medallist clearly dominated the proceedings against Jitendra as he took the first round 5-0.
In the second round, the Azerbaijan grappler wasted no time in consolidating his lead and was adjudged the winner by clear domination of the Punjab wrestler.
Glasgow Common Wealth Games gold medallist Odunayo Adekuoroye from Nigeria lead the fightback for Punjab after defeating Mumbai’s Lalita Sehrawat 16-0 in the women’s 53kg bout.
The Nigerian took a 4-0 lead in the first round before overpowering Lalita in the second to be declared the winner.
With the scores tied at 1-1, Rio Olympics gold medallist Vladimer Khinchegashvili extended Punjab’s lead by winning the 57kg bout against Mumbai’s Rahul Aware.
The Georgian, who also clinched the silver in the 2012 London Olympics, took the lead early in the opening bout 6-2 before swelling it further to 12-5 in the second round to give Punjab a 2-0 lead in the semi-final.
Reigning Olympic champion in women’s 75kg Erica Elizabeth Wiebe then brought the Mumbai franchise back to contention after getting the better of Vasilisa Marzaliuk of Belarus 2-1 in the third match of the evening.
Canada’s Wiebe came back from being 0-1 in the opening bout to turn the tide towards Mumbai with a 2-1 win in the second round.
Russian Ilyas Bekbulatov then gave Punjab the lead back by clinching the 65kg bout against Mumbai’s Vikas 17-0 in the first round itself.
The Russian grappler took just a minute to be adjudged winner of the bout by technical superiority in what turned out to a bop-sided contest.
With Punjab leading 3-2, Ukrainian freestyle wrestler Pavlo Oliynyk gave Mumbai the equaliser by clinching the 97 kg heavyweight category bout 12-0 against punjab’s Krishan Kumar.
Pavlo, the 2015 World Championships bronze medallist took a 4-0 lead in the opening round before overpowering the Indian wrestler in the second round.
Punjab then got to a 4-3 lead, thanks to Nirmala Devi who won her 48 kg women’s bout by higher manoeuvre against Mumbai’s Carolina Castillo Hidalgo 2-2.
Despite being 0-1 down against the Colombian, Nirmala bounced back in the second to be declared the winner.
Punjab then took an unassailable 5-3 lead in the semi-final contest when Pankaj Rana came from behind to beat Pritam in the men’s 70kg bout 8-8 in the final seconds of the match.
In the opening round, Pankaj trailed 2-6 before stunning Pritam in the final seconds of the second round to ensure Punjab’s way to the final.
The inconsequential last bout of the evening saw Mumbai’s Pritam thrashing Punjab’s Manju Kumari 9-0 in the women’s 58 kg bout to reduce the gap to 5-4 in favour of Punjab.
After taking the first round 4-0, Pritam did not allow the Punjab wrestler to make a comeback and extended her lead to 9-0 in the second round to give Mumbai a consolation win at the end.