New Delhi, Jan 10: Punjab Royals maintained their winning streak to clinch the lead over others by defeating Uttar Pradesh Dangal 5-2 in a Pro Wrestling League (PWL) tie at the KD Jadhav Indoor Stadium here on Tuesday.
Punjab are now on six points from four matches. They lost the first match of their campaign before registering three consecutive victories.
Jaipur Ninjas, Mumbai Maharathi and Haryana Hammers share the second spot with four points each. However, Haryana and Jaipur have a strong chance of making a comeback as they have played two and three matches respectively.
Uttar Pradesh continue to languish at the bottom spot, having lost all their three matches.
Punjab captain Vladimir Khinchegashvili won the toss and decided to block the women's 58kg category. Uttar Pradedsh captain Elitsa Yankova, meanwhile, blocked the men's 97kg bout.
Vladimir ensured a bright start for Punjab by outclassing 2013 World Championship silver medallist Amit Dahiya 6-2 in the men's 57kg category.
Vladimir executed a four-point takedown to lead 4-0 at the break. The Georgian took another couple of points early in the second round and spent the last couple of minutes defending as Amit went all out in attack.
But the reigning Olympic champion used his experience and superior technique to good effect to hold Amit'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 that did not prove to be enough.
Yankova brought Uttar Pradesh back to level terms by defeating a valiant Nirmala Devi 2-1 in the women's 48kg category.
Devi went ahead in the first round and led for most of the bout. At one point it seemed as if she will pull off an upset against the Rio Olympics bronze medallist 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 penalised for an unsuccessful protest.
Jitendra handed the lead back to Punjab by overpowering UP's Tariel Gaprindashvili 6-1 in the men's 74kg division.
The Indian grappler took a 2-0 lead against his Georgian opponent in the first round and never reliquinshed the 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 53kg 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 65kg 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 70kg 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 unleashed the style to virtually turn 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 75kg category.