Rajasthan Royals maintained their perfect home record beating Royal Challengers Bangalore by four wickets in their Indian Premier League (IPL) match at the Sawai Man Singh Stadium here Monday.
Chasing 172 to win, Rajasthan responded to the challenge positively with wicket-keeper batsman Samson, who replaced Dishant Yagnik, taking the fight into the rival camp with a blistering knock, laced with nine boundaries, including two sixes.
After Samson's dismissal, Hodge's 18-ball 32 and Shane Watson's patient 41-run knock guided the hosts to win with one ball to spare as Rajasthan remain unbeaten at home.
Right from his arrival at the crease, upon dismissal of Ajinkya Rahane, Samson dealt in boundaries. The hosts were 45 for one in six overs but Samson brought his side back with his run-spree.
At half-way mark he guided the side to 80 for two although hosts, lost skipper Rahul Dravid (22) in between.
Watson played a second fiddle and was in good touch as his drives, both grounded and uppish, were struck firmly.
Samson became the youngest batsman to score a fifty in IPL at the age of 18 when he hit a crushing boundary off RP Singh in the cover area. Watson smashed the same bowler over his head as the hosts reached 115 for two in 14 overs.
Samson was dismissed by Ravi Rampaul but it only got better for the hosts as Hodge came up with a match-winning cameo. The Australian along with his compatriot Watson sent the Bangalore bowlers to leather hunt.
Hodge whacked Rampaul for two sixes in the 18th over and it looked an easy stroll for the hosts from there. However, script changed with RP Singh dismissing Watson in the penultimate over and Vinay Kumar accounting for Hodge in the last over.
Virat Kohli, showing presence of mind, effected run out of Owais Shah and it seemed Bangalore were pulling off the unlikely win. However, Stuart Binny found a boundary off penultimate ball to seal win for the hosts.
Earlier, R Vinay Kumar's final-over assault during which he smashed birthday boy James Faulkner for three sixes propelled Royal Challengers Bangalore to a challenging 171 for six.
Bangalore, who were 149 for six after the end of the 19th over, scored 22 runs in the innings' last over with Vinay Kumar hitting Faulkner over deep mid-wicket, long on and over the bowler's head for three sixes.
Though Chris Gayle top-scored for RCB with a 16-ball 34, Vinay Kumar's 22 runs off just six balls was the reason RCB could put up a fight in Rajasthan's citadel.
Shane Watson returned as the most impressive bowler with figures of three for 22. Faulkner's final over spoilt what was turning out to be a decent day for him.
Sent into bat, RCB's Gayle was in his element from the beginning, hitting six fours and a six during his whirlwind knock of 34 that came off just 16 balls. But Watson had the dangerous West Indian caught behind with a ball that was slightly on the shorter side outside off, drawing Gayle to go for a loose cut.
After the early onslaught by Gayle, RCB's run rate dropped considerably and there was a period when Rajasthan conceded just 22 runs in four overs.
The visitors struggled to find the ropes for as many as 40 balls before A B de Villiers dispatched Ajit Chandila over midwicket for a boundary. Two balls later Virat Kohli hit one straight down the bowler's head, before de Villiers reverse-swept him for the over's third boundary.
Chandila's was a productive over for RCB as they took 16 runs.
De Villiers found the fence one more time before S Sreesanth came back to dismiss the South African for a 13-ball 21, the batsman's slice going straight to the deep point fielder in the first delivery of what was to be a wicket-maiden over.
RCB were kept quiet after that before Vinay Kumar smashed those three sixes in the final over to spoil Rajasthan's calculations.