Ludhiana: On a night that promised much, the Bengaluru Yodhas were left to rue missed opportunities as they slipped to a disappointing 5-2 defeat against Mumbai Garuda at the Guru Nanak Stadium in Ludhiana night. Mumbai Garuda won the first five bouts in the best of seven tie, sealing victory before Narsingh Yadav and Bajrang Punia gave the Yodhas victories in the final two bouts putting up a couple of battling displays. The loss sees the Yodhas slip to third place in the Pro Wrestling League table.
On a cold and windy night in Ludhiana, Mumbai Garuda's captain Adeline Gray won the toss and opted to block the Yodhas' 57 kg women's category. This meant that five-time World Championship medallist Yuliya Ratkevich would have to sit out the tie. Narsingh, the Yodhas' skipper, countered by blocking the men's 97 kg division, putting out Mumbai's Odikadze Elizbar and the Yodhas' Pavlo Oliiynik.
The tie opened with Davit Modzmanashvili, the Yodhas' 125 kg wrestler taking on compatriot Levan Berianidze. Davit began well enough, exploiting his quick movement to constantly slip out of Levan's attempts at grabbing a firm hold. The first half ended with Davit leading by a slender 1-0 margin. In the second period, the referee penalised the Yodhas' wrestler for passivity, awarding Berianidze one point, levelling the scores. Both wrestlers were locked in a tight tussle but Berianidze managed to unbalance Davit in the last twenty seconds, scoring a take-down and taking the bout 4-1.
Sandeep Tomar, who faced Rahul Aware in the 57 kg category, put up a valiant show but conceded three points in the last 30 seconds to go down 5-0. In the next bout, a rematch of the 2014 Commonwealth Games 53 kg final, Lalita Sehrawat of the Yodhas took on Mumbai's Adekuroye Odunayo of Nigeria. The wiry Odunayo gave Lalita no chance as a series of rapid take-downs saw the Mumbai wrestler win the bout 10-0 by virtue of technical superiority.
With the tie score resting at 3-0, it was left to Bengaluru Yodhas' 48 kg American wrestler Alyssa Lampe to pull the Yodhas back into contention. Alyssa looked on track to do just that as she led Ritu Phogat 6-3 with just 15 seconds to go. A lapse in concentration on Alyssa's part afforded an opening to Ritu and the youngster pulled off a spectacular pin to close off the bout, winning 9-6.
With the tie sealed in Mumbai's favour, two-time World Champion in the 75 kg category, Adeline Gray, humbled Yodhas' Navjot Kaur, winning 10-0 in under three minutes.
With only pride left to play for, the Yodhas turned to icon player Narsingh Yadav. The 26-year-old did not disappoint as he dismissed Mumbai's Pardeep 6-0 in a fluid display, looking untroubled over the course of the bout.
The most entertaining bit of action was reserved for last as Bengaluru's Bajrang Punia took on Amit Dhankhar in the 65 kg contest. Both wrestlers started aggressively with Dhankhar drawing first blood, pushing out Bajrang and picking up a point. A customary slow starter, Bajrang found his groove as the bout progressed, drawing level in the second minute. In the second period, both grapplers stepped up the intensity. A rapid take-down by Bajrang gave the Yodhas' wrestler a 3-1 lead but Dhankhar came back to draw things level. With just seven seconds to go, Bajrang surprised his opponent with a slick counter-attack. A vicious dive to Dhankhar's midsection ended with the Mumbai wrestler on his stomach, giving Bajrang three vital points and victory.
Bengaluru Yodhas will aim to put their campaign back on track as they face the Haryana Hammers in what promises to be an enthralling tie in Gurgaon.