Reigning junior world champion Deepak Punia on Saturday became the first Indian to reach a final at the World Wrestling Championship in Nur-Sultan after beating Stefan Reichmuth 8-2 in the 86 kg semi-final on Saturday.
He is just the fifth Indian wrestler to reach the final at the senior World Wrestling Championships and will face Iran’s Hassan Yazdani in the final on Sunday.
Earlier in the day, Punia prevailed in a tense quarter-final against Colombia’s Carlos Arturo Mendez, to lock the quota after winning 7-6.
With one minute to go, he was trailing 3-6 but pulled off a takedown and then an expose move to take a 7-6 lead in the dying moments of the tense bout.
However, Rahul Aware lost in the semi-finals of 61kg non-Olympic category, going down 6-8 to Beka Lomtadze in a close encounter.
Vinesh Phogat, Deepak Punia and Ravi Dahiya have already qualified for the 2020 Olympics with bronze medals.
In other categories, Jitender (79kg) lost his quarter-final while Mausam Khatri lost his first round bout in 97kg to reigning Olympic champion Kyle Frederick Snyder.
Deepak had bumped into home wrestler Adilet Davlumbayev in his opening round. However, he played very smartly to defeat the home favourite despite trailing 0-5.
Adlilet was playing rough and was cautioned for poking Deepak. Consecutive takedown moves and a caution point brought Deepak on even terms at 5-5.
He converted an opportunity but also conceded a throw and it was 7-7. The home camp challenged the call and lost.
Deepak got one more point while the Kazakh lost one, sending Deepak into the next round.
He was hardly troubled by Tajikistan’s Bakhodur Kodirov, who he beat 6-0 to move to quarterfinals.
In 61kg, Rahul Aware played his pre-quarterfinal against Turkmenistan’s Kerim Hojakov.
The diminutive agile wrestler from Maharashtra was in complete control of the bout, which he ended with leg lace moves, winning by technical superiority.
Against Kazakhstan’s Rassul Kaliyev, it was a very tough bout but the Indian showed more craft than his rough opponent and won 10-7 in a roller-coaster quarter-final. He was technically more sound and sharp.
Jitender began with an easy 7-2 win over Molodova’s Gheorghi Pascalov.
In the pre-quarterfinals, he was up against Turkey’s Muhammet Nuri Kotanoglu, the European Championship bronze medallist and again his immense upper body strength helped him to a 7-2 win.
However, he could not find a way to break the solid defence of Slovakia’s Taimuraz Salkazanov, losing 0-4.
(With PTI inputs)