"You will soon see the Bajrang who ruled the mat in 2018," assured Tokyo Olympics bronze medallist Bajrang Punia after winning the 65kg trials for the Commonwealth Games while Ravi Dahiya and Deepak Punia also expectedly triumphed in their respective categories, here on Tuesday.
Bajrang, who is under the scanner for lack of attacking moves in his bouts since the Asian Championship, booked his berth in the national team with wins over Sujeet (4-0) and Vishal Kalliraman (2-1). Like it happened in the Asian Championship in Mongolia, where he won a silver, Bajrang was largely engaged in standing wrestling against Sujeet, winning points on passivity of his rival.
In the final against Vishal, he attempted a few moves but was put on the clock himself for lack of action and eventually prevailed. "I have just started competing after a long gap, injury was also there, so certainly there is a bit of hesitancy in going for attacks," Bajrang said.
"But you will soon see the Bajrang of 2018 (who dominated the mat across the globe). It's just a matter of playing more matches. I have the World Championship in mind, and will play Ranking Series events before that. I will get better with more competitive bouts." Talking about the final, the 28-year-old said,"Vishal is not a bad wrestler. Also, due to heavy sweating, the mat was getting slippery and that at times nullifies the difference (in quality) between two wrestlers."
In the 57kg, the gulf between Tokyo Games silver medal winner Ravi Kumar Dahiya and others was apparent. He won by fall against Vijay and eked out a win by technical superiority against Aman in the final. To his credit, Vijay, who hails from Maharashtra, did not get intimidated by Ravi and showed stomach for bout.
There was intense competition in the 74kg where Naveen emerged champion with a TSU win over Gaurav Baliyan, who recently won a silver in Asian Championship in 79kg. There were many quality yet ageing wrestlers in this category such as Amit Dhankar, Parveen Rana, national champion Pritam along with young guns like Yash Tunir.
In the 86kg, Deepak Punia easily sailed through, winning against Vickey (4-3) and Sanjeet. In the 97kg, Satyawart Kadiyan and Mausam Khatri bit the dust as Deepak claimed his place in the Indian team with an authoritative win over talented Sahil Ahlawat. Mohit won the controversy-marred 125kg final.
The Birmingham Games will begin on July 28.