Asian Games gold medallist Bajrang Punia beat Tulga Tumur Ochir of Mongolia 5-3 to enter the semifinals of the men’s 65 kg Freestyle category at the World Wrestling Championships here on Sunday.
In a thrilling quarterfinal, the Indian held the upper hand until the last minute, leading 4-1.
But Punia conceded to his Mongolian opponent three crucial points, including one for the neutral position and two for the takedown within 40-odd seconds, which almost stopped the Indian’s progress.
But luckily, Punia held his nerves and even thwarted a challenge by the Mongolian in the last second, thus earning an additional point for the CWG gold medallist.
The Indian will take on Alejandro Enrique Valdes Tobier of Cuba in the semifinals.
Earlier, Punia defeated Roman Asharin 9-4 in the first round and beat Korean Lee Seungchul 4-0 in a bout which saw both grapplers threading cautiously.
After having earned three points in the first period, Punia added just one more in the second even as the Korean was concentrating more on his defence.
In other freestyle bouts of the day, Sandeep Tomar scored an excellent first-round win over his Guatemala opponent Jose Mox Arias with a score of 10-0, six of his points coming in the second period.
He, however, lost the second round to Azerbaijan’s Giorgi Edisherashvili 2-2 — his opponent was declared as the winner because of a warning which the Indian received in the first period.
Sachin Rathi lost his first round 92 kg category bout 1-13 to Mongolian wrestler Unurbat Purevjav, the latter outclassing the Indian in the second period.
On the other hand, Deepak, who received a first-round bye, lost 0-4 to Liubomyr Sagaliuk of Ukraine in the second round.