New Delhi: Sandeep Tomar, Rajneesh along with Haryana Hammer's foreign exports helped the team register a came-from-behind win to enter the final of the Pro Wrestling League season two by beating new entrants Jaipur Ninjas 6-3 in the first semifinals on Tuesday.
After Magomed Kurbanaliev and Marwa Amri levelled the scores for Haryana, Rajneesh, Sandeep and Sofia Mattsson ensured group stage table toppers, Haryana's smooth entry into the final with a dominating show.
Unlike in the group stage, none of the categories were blocked today and all nine bouts were fought, negating any advantage to any of the semifinalists.
Georgia's Jakob Makarashvili gave Jaipur Ninjas an early lead by defeating Sumit Sehrawat 10-0 in the opening bout of the match.
Jakob was clinical against Sumit as he took him down with surprising agility on multiple occasions to deny the Indian wrestler any chance of making a comeback in the bout. Having taken the 4-0 lead after the first round, Jakob went on extending the lead in the second round as well and won it easily in the end in men's 74kg.
Up next was youngest of the Phogat sisters, Ritu of Jaipur against Indu Chaudhary of Haryana Hammers in women's 48kg.
With both sisters Babita and Sangeeta supporting from the sidelines, Ritu did very well to take down Indu thrice in the opening round to surge ahead with a 6-0 lead at the break.
In round two, Indu tried to make a comeback but Ritu denied her any chance. In fact, once it seemed that Indu would gain a couple of points when she could pull down Ritu but the Phogat girl turned things on her rival itself and managed to earn two more points to bag the bout 8-0 and extend Jaipur's lead.
While Magomed of Russia overcame a tough challenge from India's Vinod Kumar Omprakash, who showed some brilliant defensive skills, before prevailing 5-0 in men's 70kg, it was a cake walk for Marwa in women's 58kg against Pooja Dhanda as the Tunisian wrestler pinned the Indian down on several occasions, besides flipping her once to clinch the bout 10-0.
Rajneesh gave Haryana the lead for the first time today after eking out a narrow 8-6 win over Jaipur's Rahul Mann in a closely fought bout in men's 65kg.
In a neck-and-neck battle, Rajneesh managed to always maintain a lead in an encounter that saw fluctuating fortunes.
Rajneesh was leading 6-3 at the break but Rahul came back strongly in the second round to reduce the margin. However, Rajneesh held on to his nerves to have the last laugh.
Jaipur's Jenny Fransson, Rio Olympics bronze medallist, claimed the sixth bout of the day to once again tie the scores 3-3.
In a one-sided contest, Sweden's Jenny hardly had to break a sweat against Kiran of Haryana, winning it 8-0 in women's 75kg.
The onus was on Sandeep Tomar, who last night stunned Rio Olympics gold medallist Vladimir Khinchegashvili, to hand back the lead to Haryana and he did just that in another tightly contested bout.
A decisive attacking maneuvre once again helped Rio Olympian Sandeep to prevail over his compatriot by just solitary point 5-4.
Leading 3-0 after the first round, Sandeep conceded points to Rahul in the second round as the latter gained four straight points by throwing Sandeep down on the ground flat on his back.
With just 30 odd seconds left, Rahul was suddenly leading 4-3 and a desperate Sandeep used all his skills and strength to take down his opponent in the dying moments of the tie in men's 57kg.
Haryana Hammers captain Abdusalam Gadisov continued his unbeaten run in the tournament by getting the better of Elizbar Odikadze 5-4 in men's 97kg in another close contest.
Both wrestlers were engaged in a battle of superior offence and defence, delighting the spectators with their maneuvers before Gadisov won one point in the last couple of seconds in a controversial decision, to extend the margin of victory for Haryana.