Ludhiana : Flying high on the back of their 6-1 victory over the UP Warriors, a confident Bengaluru Yodhas team will take on an equally buoyant Mumbai Garudas at the Shri Guru Nanak stadium in Ludhiana, Punjab on Monday night.
The Mumbai team are currently sitting pretty at the summit of the Pro Wrestling League table with 43 points gained after recording a victory over Punjab Royals in their opening match. The Yodhas, meanwhile, are in second place with 36 points.
Bengaluru Yodhas' 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 said.
While the Yodhas thumped UP Warriors on Friday with every wrestler leave for Lalita Sehrawat recording convincing victories, the team's morale is high. Icon player Narsingh Yadav who outclassed Purevjav Unurbat 9-1, said that the win in the previous round 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 both in the men's and women's section. In the men's 57 kg, Yodhas' Sandeep Tomar will square off against Rahul Aware, both of whom are a part of the JSW SEP. The two have had a longstanding rivalry with Tomar's resilience and technical ability pitted against the aggressiveness of the 23-year-old Aware. In the 65 kg, Bajrang Punia will face Amit Dhankhar in what will be a riveting contest with Dhankhar holding a slight advantage in the fact that the Mumbai wrestler has always competed in the 65 kg category while Bajrang has only moved into the category with the start of the PWL. In the 74 kg 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 internationals in the 97 kg and 125 kg categories with Yodhas' Pavlo Oliiynik drawn against Odikadze Elizbar of Georgia in the former while Davit Modzmanashvili, who was blocked in the Yodhas' opener, taking on Armenia's Levan Berianidze.
In the women's section, Alyssa Lampe of the US will face Ritu Phogat in the 48 kg division while Lalita Sehrawat is up against the lanky Odunayo Adekouroye of Nigeria in the 53 kg 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 58 kg who became the only wrestler in the PWL so far to earn a 'Victory by Fall' will face off against Sakshi Malik while Mumbai's icon player Adeline Gray will compete against Navjot Kaur of the Yodhas in the 75 kg division.
With both teams evenly matched, coach Malik believed that the toss, 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 (125 kg) and Navjot Kaur (75 kg) had been blocked for the Yodhas while Amit Dhankhar (65 kg) and Ritu Phogat (48 kg) 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.