Bengaluru: On a night that had it all, big take-downs, wins by technical superiority and a rousing comeback, Bengaluru Yodhas slumped to an unfortunate 4-3 defeat to Dilli Veer at the Koramangala Indoor Stadium on Wednesday night.
The tie went down to the wire as both teams were locked at three wins apiece with the seventh and final bout the decider. Yodhas' Bajrang Punia though could not avoid defeat against Navruzov Ikhtiyor, giving Dilli Veer their first win in the tournament.
Bengaluru Yodhas ended their league engagements in fourth place with this loss, finishing with four points from five games. Dilli Veer finished last with two points from five games. The Yodhas however have already made the cut for the semifinals having managed a top-four finish.
With a vocal home crowd backing the Yodhas, Sandeep Tomar kicked off the night taking on Mongolia's Erdenebat Bekhbayar in the 57 kg category. Tomar, coming into this match on the back of three defeats, fought hard in the first period, only conceding three points. His Mongolian opponent though stepped up the pace in the second round, forcing Sandeep twice into exposure positions to pick up a 7-0 victory.
Lalita Sehrawat put up a brave effort against European champion Liliya Horishna, clawing back a five-point deficit. However, the 23-year-old Lalita could not maintain her rhythm in the second period with Horishna taking the bout 11-6 after a tiring Lalita conceded a couple of easy openings.
With Dilli Veer leading the tie 2-0 the Yodhas needed someone to come up with something special. Davit Modzmanashvili, the 2012 Olympic silver medallist did just that, rising to the occasion magnificently. Facing Dilli Veer's Krishan Kumar in the 125 kg contest, the burly Georgian finished off the bout in just 64 seconds winning by technical fall with the score at 10-0. Yuliya Ratkevich then put the Yodhas on level terms with a battling display against Elif Yale Yesilirmak in the 58 kg category. With the scores locked at 1-1 with just two minutes to go, Yuliya forced the Dilli Veer wrestler into an exposure position, going up 3-1. Yesilirmak came hard trying to win back the points but an expert rearguard action from Yuliya, one in which she moved expertly to prevent Yesilirmak from getting too close, ensured that she kept her lead and squared the tie at 2-2.
Icon player Narsingh Yadav then put together a customary display of controlled aggression, downing Dinesh Kumar 8-4 and giving the home team a 3-2 lead.
With a victory needed to seal the tie, Alyssa Lampe took on the Veer's icon player Vinesh Phogat in the 48 kg category. However, a masterclass from Vinesh saw Alyssa go down 10-0, a win which put Dilli on an equal footing with the Yodhas.
In the seventh and final bout, Bajrang Punia faced Navruzov Ikhtiyor in the 65 kg division. Both wrestlers started off in aggressive fashion but a couple of errors from Bajrang allowed Ikhtiyor a way in and the 2015 World Championship silver medallist made the 21-year-old Bajrang pay. A quick reversal gave the Uzbek wrestler a 3-1 lead at the end of the first period and he did not relent in the second, pressuring Bajrang into more errors and picking up important points. The bout finally ended 10-1 in favour of Ikhtiyor, a result that gave the team from the national capital their first ever win in the Pro Wrestling League.