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Haryana Hammers pip Punjab Royals in a nail-biting Pro wrestling League semi-final

Haryana Hammers will take on table-toppers Mumbai Garuda in the title clash at the KD Jadhav Wrestling arena in the Capital on Sunday. (Getty Images)

Haryana Hammers will take on table-toppers Mumbai Garuda in the title clash at the KD Jadhav Wrestling arena in the Capital on Sunday. (Getty Images)

Haryana Hammers will take on table-toppers Mumbai Garuda in the title clash at the KD Jadhav Wrestling arena in the Capital on Sunday.

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New Delhi: Haryana Hammers entered the final of the Pro Wrestling League after prevailing over Punjab Royals 4-3 in a thrilling second semi-final contest in the inaugural edition of the event here on Saturday.

Haryana Hammers will clash with table toppers Mumbai Garuda in the final on Sunday.

Haryana registered a come-from-behind win to make it to the title clash.

Punjab Royals took an early 2-0 lead after winning the first two bouts before Haryana Hammers tied the scores by bagging the next two in front of a full house. A win each for Punjab and Haryana in the following two bouts and scores were tied yet again.

Ultimately, it went down to the wire in a fitting semi-final.

The crucial deciding bout was won by Haryana's Livan Lopez Azcuy 5-1 against Punjab's Praveen Rana, who got injured in the beginning of the bout and it was difficult for him to make a comeback.

Althoiugh he showed a lot of character, he failed to topple his Cuban rival.

In the absence of an injured captain Yogeshwar Dutt, Haryana Hammers fielded little-known Vishal Rana against Rajneesh of Punjab Royals in men's 65kg.

In a one-sided contest, Rajneesh overpowered Vishal 12-2 by technical superiority in just four minutes and 32 seconds.

Royals' Vasilisa Marzaliuk prevailed 4-0 over Geetika Jhakhar of Haryana in women's 69kg. The World Championship bronze medallist from Belarus, who had superior technique and power, had it easy against the Indian wrestler.

Hammers' Andriitesey Valerii outplayed Mausam Khatri of Punjab Royals 5-4 by fall verdict in a brilliant come-from- behind win in men's 97kg. Despite Khatri leading 4-1 after the first round and maintaining an edge till one-and-a-half minute into the second round, the Ukrainian grappler turned the tables by throwing the Indian straight down on the mat on his back.

In a similar fashion, Haryana's stand-in-skipper Tatyana Kit, a World Championship bronze medallist, also came back from behind to register a 5-4 by-fall victory over Priyanka Phogat of Punjab in women's 53kg.

Just like the previous bout, Priyanka had also taken an upper hand to be leading 4-1 at the break but the Ukranian girl put her on the mat to have the last laugh.

In men's 125kg, Punjab's Jargalsaikhan Chuluubat posted a comfortable 5-1 win over Hitender, while world champion in women's 58kg, Oksana Herhel took just two minutes and 25 seconds to down Punjab icon player and captain Geeta Phogat 4-0 by fall to take the match to the decider.

In men's 74kg, Azcuy took a 2-0 lead after Round One and then extended it to 5-1 over Praveen.

"I will not be fighting tomorrow as the doctor has asked for me a two-week rest. I have suffered a sprain in my knees and I would not be taking any chances," said the Haryana skipper.

Saturday's match witnessed all seven Indian wrestlers in both teams losing their respective bouts, but Yogeshwar said he did not want to read too much into it.

"It is a team work and all foreign wrestlers who represented either Haryana or Punjab today were all Indians.

"In this tournament, all my teammates are Haryanvis," said Yogeshwar.

He also felt that his team was capable of winning the final against Mumbai Garuda on Sunday even without him in the ranks.

"Everyone is very good and one athlete's absence does not matter as it is a team work and whichever team does well, wins."

Oksana, who on Saturday avenged her loss at the league stage against Geeta Phogat, said she was prepared for the Punjab captain.

"I knew what to do against her as I had already faced Geeta and lost to her in a round-robin match. So I was prepared accordingly," Oksana, who took just a couple of minutes to defeat Geeta, said.

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