Tokyo Olympic silver medallist Ravi Dahiya was his usual dominant self, Bajrang Punia did not have to struggle much while Gourav Baliyan was impressive in his campaign as the three Indians kept themselves in the reckoning for gold medals at the Asian Championship, on Saturday.
Ravi, who hails from Nahri village in Sonepat, yet again showed his immense physical prowess and tactical superiority when he outsmarted Japan’s Rikuto Arai (VSU) and pulled off a comprehensive 12-5 win over Mongolia’s Zanabazar Zandanbud in the 57kg men’s freestyle event.
The Japanese was quick with his moves and initially troubled Ravi with his double-leg attacks which even took the Indian off his feet but once the Haryana wrestler got the measure of his rival, he dictated the terms in the bout.
— United World Wrestling (@wrestling) April 23, 2022
Ravi not only found away to block Arai’s attack but also got himself into position to find take-down moves from both sides as the Japanese did not have a plan ‘B’ to counter the in-form Indian.
Ravi kept consolidated his lead and eventually won by technical superiority.
In the semifinal against Zandanbud, Ravi fell behind 0-4 after the home wrestler effected a take-down move and followed that up with a gut-wrench but Ravi again was quick in finding a way to thwart his rival.
In no time, he effected five back-to-back two-pointers to pull ahead and easily reached the final.
On the contrary, Bajrang, who is competing for the first time since winning a bronze at the Tokyo Games, did not have to contend with quality rivals en route the finals.
Neither Abbos Rakhmonov (UZB) nor Haji Mohamad Ali (BRN) was equipped with the game to challenge a wrestler of the calibre of Bajrang, who made only one move across quarterfinal and semifinal bouts.
His rivals were passive and Bajrang got points on their lack of action.
It is not good for Bajrang since he needed to test himself ahead of the Asian Games in the competitive 65kg category.
Meanwhile, Gourav Baliyan moved swiftly on the mat, applied his technique with confidence and yielded results for his good work.
He overpowered Turkmenistan’s Gurbanmyrat Ovezberdiyev in super quick time, finishing the quarterfinal in just 28 seconds with five consecutive gut-wrench after getting hold of his opponent.
His semifinal was a tough contest with Kyrgyzstan’s Arsalan Budazhapov fighting tooth and nail. In the fast-paced contest, in which counter-attacks from both the wrestlers made it an engrossing bout, Gourav was trailing 4-5 and just 14 seconds to go, he found a match-changing take-down move to make it 6-5 and eventually won 8-5.
Satywart Kadiyan (97kg) and Naveen (70kg) will fight for bronze medals.
India have so far won 10 medals, including two silver, in the continental championship.