The Punjab Royals dominated Uttar Pradesh Dangal to extend their run of form to three wins. (IANS photo)

NEW DELHI — The Punjab Royals maintained their winning streak to become league leaders after defeating Uttar Pradesh Dangal 5-2 in a Pro Wrestling League tie at the K.D. Jadhav Indoor Stadium here Jan. 10.

Punjab now have six points from four matches. Having lost the first match of their campaign, they have now registered three consecutive victories.

Jaipur Ninjas, Mumbai Maharathi and Haryana Hammers share second place with four points each. However, Haryana and Jaipur have a strong chance of taking Punjab’s spot as they have only played two and three matches respectively.

Uttar Pradesh continue to languish at the bottom spot, having lost all three of their matches.

The match started off with Punjab captain Vladimir Khinchegashvili winning the coin toss and deciding to block the women's 58 kg category. Uttar Pradesh captain Elitsa Yankova blocked the men's 97 kg bout.

Khinchegashvili ensured a bright start for Punjab by outclassing 2013 World Championship silver medalist Amit Dahiya 6-2 in the men's 57 kg category.

Khinchegashvili executed a four-point takedown to lead 4-0 at the break. The Georgian then took another couple of points early in the second round and spent the last few minutes defending as Dahiya went all out.

The reigning Olympic champion used his experience and superior technique to good effect to keep Dahiya's repeated attacks at bay. The Indian's perseverance paid off in the last few seconds when he managed to bag two points with a takedown, but it was not enough.

Yankova brought Uttar Pradesh back to level terms by defeating a valiant Nirmala Devi 2-1 in the women's 48 kg category.

Devi went ahead in the first round and led for most of the bout. At one point, it seemed as if she would pull off an upset against the Rio Olympics bronze medalist from Bulgaria. But the Uttar Pradesh grappler bagged one point after the referee invoked the passivity rule against Devi.

Yankova was awarded another point when Punjab were penalized for an unsuccessful protest.

Jitendra handed the lead back to Punjab by overpowering UP's Tariel Gaprindashvili 6-1 in the men's 74 kg division.

The Indian grappler took a 2-0 lead against his Georgian opponent in the first round and never gave up that advantage throughout the bout.

Punjab extended their lead when Odunayo Folasade Adekuoroye of Nigeria defeated Uttar Pradesh's Pinki by technical superiority in the women's 53 kg bout. The Nigerian star was leading 16-0 in the second period when the contest was stopped.

Punjab won the tie with two bouts to spare when Russian star Ilyas Bekbulatov outclassed UP's Andrey Kviatkovski 6-3 in the men's 65 kg contest.

The Russian opened up a 6-0 lead in the first round before the Uttar Pradesh grappler bagged three points in the final minute.

Former Asian champion Amit Dhankar won the second bout for Uttar Pradesh by overpowering Punjab's Pankaj Rana 13-5 in the men's 70 kg contest.

Dhankar took a 4-0 lead with a couple of takedowns before Rana bagged two points seconds before the break.

Rana fought back to draw level at 4-4 early in the second round, but Dhankar upped the tempo and turned the bout into a one-sided affair.

Former European champion Vasilisa Marzaliuk of Belarus rounded off the tie for Punjab in style with a 3-1 victory over Maria Mamashuk in the women's 75 kg category.

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