Nur-Sultan (Kazakhstan): Deepak Punia became the first Indian wrestler to advance to the final at this year's World Wrestling Championships and will now compete for gold in the 86kg category on Sunday.
The reigning junior world champion Deepak had already qualified for 2020 Tokyo Olympics after reaching the semi-final in his weight category.
In the semi-final, Deepak beat Switzerland's Stefan Reichmuth 8-2 and will next face the legendary Hassan Yazdani of Iran in the gold medal match.
Bajrang Punia, Ravi Dahiya and Vinesh Phogat won bronze medals at the Championships and Deepak has already guaranteed himself one better than the three.
On the other hand, Rahul Aware lost 6-10 to Georgia's Lomtadze in the 61kg non-Olympic category semi-finals and will compete in the bronze medal bout on Sunday.
Bajrang Punia took to Twitter to congratulate Deepak on reaching the final and asked him to win the gold medal for the country.
Congratulations to #DeepakPunia phalwan for securing a berth in the Olympics and for reaching the finals of the world championship 2019, best wishes, bring home the gold medal pic.twitter.com/1lXfVEp3jR — Bajrang Punia (@BajrangPunia) September 21, 2019
It has been a steady progress for Deepak, who won the World Cadet title in 2016 and became junior world champion only last month in Estonia.
The 20-year old has ensured that India will return from the World Championship with its best ever performance as the country is now assured of four medals.
Vinesh Phogat, Bajrang Punia and Ravi Dahiya have already won a bronze medal each. All of them qualified for the Tokyo Olympics as well. Rahul Aware can make it even better if he wins Sunday's bronze medal bout in the 61kg non-Olympic category.
India had returned with three medals in 2013.
Deepak's all-round ability -- defence, attack, stamina and awareness on the mat -- played a key role in his memorable performance.
There was no action in the first period of the semifinal with Deepak gaining a 1-0 lead on activity clock.
In the second period, Deepak pushed out Reichmuth and took the Swiss down for a 4-0 lead. He lost two points but another takedown and expose move clinched it for Deepak.
(With PTI inputs)