Bajrang keeps India in medal hunt, Sushil knocked out of Asian Games

Vastavam web: A dominating Bajrang Punia was one win away from clinching his maiden Asian Games gold medal but it was all over Sushil Kumar who crashed out of the mega sporting event after losing his first bout here on Sunday. Commonwealth Games gold medallist Bajrang, who got a bye in the first round, won all three bouts by technical superiority, asserting his class in the 65kg category.

He outclassed Uzbekistan’s Sirojiddin (13-3), Tajikistan’s Fayziev Abdulqosim (12-2) and Mongolia’s N Batmagnai Batchuluu (10-0) to storm into the gold medal bout. Two-time Olympic medallist Sushil, who was exempted from the Asiad trials, lost 3-5 to Bahrain’s Adam Batirov in the 74 kg category. He had come into the Games after losing his first bout in four years.

The Indian led 2-1 after the first period with a take down but the Bahraini made a strong comeback to silence the Indian fans. His defeat came as a shock for the Indian camp. Sushil himself was also surprised wit his defeat. The London Olympics silver medallist created two opportunities to score in the second period but could not convert them while Batirov did not miss his chances. He led 3-2 with a take down and then pushed the Indian out for a win.

For Sushil to remain in medal contention, Batirov needed to make the final but the Bahraini lost his quarterfinal bout 2-8 to Japan’s Yuhi Fujinami, resulting to the ouster of the Indian. In the 57kg freestyle category, Sandeep Tomar, who was the last wrestler to book a berth for the Games through trials, showed immense promise before crashing out in the quarterfinals. Tomar put up a brave fight and was locked 6-6 with his tactically superior Iranian rival. In the second, though, Reza just ran away with the bout with his big-scoring moves.

Mausam Khatri was outplayed 0-8 in the 97 kg by Uzbekistan’s Magomed Ibragimo. Khatri remained passive throughout the bout and never made any attacking move. In the 86kg, Pawan Kumar made a rousing start by blanking Heng Vuthy of Cambodia 8-0 but later lost to reigning world champion Hassan Yazdani Charati of Iran by Technical Superiority.