High on confidence after winning all their previous matches in the tournament, Mumbai started as the favourites in the grand finale today and successfully lived up the expectations with a comfortable win.
In the final, none of the categories were blocked as all nine bouts were fought and Mumbai ended up unbeaten in the event.
Down 1-2, Mumba i Garuda won their next four bouts on the trot to claim the trophy after the seventh match itself, making the last two ties inconsequential.
Mumbai won the back-to-back bouts through captain Adeline Gray, Giorgi Sakandelidze, Odunayo Adekuoroye and Odikadze Elizbar. Last two inconsequential bouts were also win by Mumbai.
To begin with Mumbai’s Amit Dhankar had an easy outing against Haryana’s Vishal Rana, who was the replacement for injured Yogeshwar Dutt, bagging the first bout 12-0 by technical superiority and giving favourites Garuda an early lead in Men’s 65kg.
Leading 8-0 at the break with a dominating show, Amit finished off the bout in the beginning of the second round. He took just three minutes and eight seconds to topple his compatriot.
But World championship gold medallist Oksana Herhel of Haryana tied the scores by posting a 4-4 by Fall win against Sakshi Malik of Mumbai in Women’s 58kg.
To begin with, Sakshi surprised the costliest buy of PWL by gaining the first four points but Haryana captain came back strongly, displaying her technique and skills to throw down the Indian girl on her back, achieving four points on the trot and winning the tie in the first round itself.
Up against Livan Lopez Azcuy of Hammers, Mumbai’s Pardeep, who failed to open his account in this tournament as he lost all seven of his bouts, once again went down 6-11 in Men’s 74kg.
Pardeep earned the opening points but Azcuy showed his class by levelling the scores 6-6 before the end of round one.
In the second round, the Cuban grappler did not spare any inch to Pardeep, winning it rather comfortably in the end.
Mumbai’s icon player Adeline Gray then predictably scored the equaliser for her team by beating Geetika Jakhar of Haryana Hammers in Women’s +69kg.
The World champion in 2012, 2014 and 2015 was leading 6-0 at the break and then won it 10-0 by technical superiority in four minutes and 39 seconds.
Giorgi Sakandelidze of Mumbai lived up to the reputation of finishing off his bouts early and he did the same today as well, overpowering Haryana’s Hitender in just one minute and 39 seconds to register a 10-0 win by technical superiority in Men’s 125kg.
Next was a fight between the two World Championship bronze medallists — Tatyana Kit of Haryana and Mumbai’s Odunayo Adekuoroye – in which the latter emerged victorious 9-0 in a one-sided contest in Women’s 53kg.
The 21-year-old Nigerian did not give any chance to Tatyana as she dominated the proceedings throughout the match. She remained unbeaten in this competition.
Odikadze Elizbar sealed the title for Mumbai with his stunning 6-4 win over Andriitesey Valerii in Men’s 97kg category.
At the end of first round Elizbar was leading 4-2, he maintained the upper hand in the next round as well to ultimately claim the inaugural title for his team.
The next two bouts were also won by Mumbai with Ritu Phogat eking out a narrow win over Nirmal Devi, while Rahul Aware defeated Nitin 6-3.
Sushil Kumar, who had opted out of the PWL, was present for the final match today.
Terming the atmosphere at the IGI stadium as electrifying, Sushil said, “It is very good atmosphere here and this is not something that the Indian wrestlers witness often.”
After winning the final, Mumbai Garuda captain Adeline Gray said her team successfully executed the plans and it deserved to win, having remained unbeaten in the league stages.
“There are always nerves involved and butterflies in the stomach when you take the mat. We rose to the occasion and made sure that we executed our plans properly. We deserved to win,” said Adeline.
Odunayo Adekuoroye said she is going back home with a lot of fond memories.
“I go home with joy and a lot of fond memories of the Pro Wrestling League,” said the Nigerian, who was the most entertaining wrestler in the tournament.