The 2020 Asian Wrestling Championships in New Delhi a fortnight ago was, for all purposes, the last chance for fans to see home favourites in action before they step out on the mat in Tokyo. Carrying the burden of an entire nation isn’t easy, however, and the final tally — a record haul of 20 medals across genders and formats — might sound impressive but left a lot more questions for the big guns.

India, so far, has four qualified wrestlers for the quadrennial event. Of those, only Ravi Dahiya in the 57kg freestyle category lived up to the ‘favourite’ billing. Bajrang Punia — the biggest of them all and the defending champion — settled for a silver, while Vinesh Phogat among the women (53kg) and Deepak Punia (86kg) could only muster bronze medals. It might mean little in an Olympic year and yet a lot, four months before the big event.

If that sounds contradictory, it…

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