Rahul Tripathi and Aiden Markram hit half centuries to guide Sunrisers Hyderabad to a third successive IPL victory on Friday but skipper Kane Williamson said there is scope for improvement.

Chasing 176 for victory against Kolkata Knight Riders, Hyderabad rode on a third-wicket partnership of 94 between Tripathi (71) and Markram (68 not out) to achieve their target with 13 balls and seven wickets to spare in Mumbai.

Tripathi set the tone for Hyderabad’s dominance with his 21-ball fifty and repay the team’s faith after he was bought for Rs 8.5 crore in the February auction of the Indian Premier League.

The uncapped Indian, who played for Kolkata last season, fell to Andre Russell after his 37-ball blitz including four fours and six sixes but Markram kept up the charge.

South Africa’s Markram finished off the chase with a four and two sixes as Sunrisers won three in a row after their opening two losses this season of the Twenty20 tournament.

Williamson said the performance was a “step up” from their previous two victories.

“To go and chase like we did and Rahul Tripathi playing an absolutely incredible knock and also Aiden Markram. Two amazing contributions for us in different roles but all in all a very good team performance,” Williamson said.

The New Zealand skipper added, “For us we always know these little things to improve on and the guys are working really hard. So far we’re seeing those signs of improvement.”

Earlier Nitish Rana, who made 54, and Russell, who hit an unbeaten 49, guided Kolkata to 175 for eight after being invited to bat first.

Kolkata struggled to build partnerships as Hyderabad pace bowlers T Natarajan and Umran Malik shared five wickets.

Australia’s white-ball skipper Aaron Finch did not last long in his first outing for Kolkata, caught behind for seven off Marco Jansen.

Natarajan then struck twice in one over to send back Venkatesh Iyer and Sunil Narine to push Kolkata on the back foot.

Wickets kept tumbling as Shreyas Iyer attempted to rebuild in his 28-run stay before Malik, who clocked speeds up to 150 kmph (93 mph) bowled the skipper with a yorker.

Rana hit back with Russell for company and reached his fifty in 32 balls. The duo added 39 runs for the sixth wicket and Russell kept up the tempo after Rana’s departure in the 18th over.

The West Indian all-rounder, nicknamed ‘Muscle’ Russell for his power-hitting, finished off the innings with two sixes and a four in his 25-ball knock but it was not enough in front of the Tripathi show.

“He (Tripathi) was struck down in the last game with cramps but great to see him grab the game by the scruff of the neck and showed leadership in that top-order,” said Hyderabad coach Tom Moody in the post-match press conference.

“Umran has been embraced by the franchise. He has been embraced by the team. There is no question about that,” said Moody.

“Everyone enjoys his bowling. He bowled very well (against KKR). He stuck to his plans and we were quite meticulous with our planning to help him understand his role. At the end of the day, when you are bowling 150 kph an hour, you are likely to go for runs. He goes for a lot of runs behind the wicket. It’s not like he is getting smashed down the ground or through the covers.

“So you got to accept that his style of bowling, there’s going to be a higher economy to that. And his role is to run in and express himself and be himself. We try and build a field around that so that he can express his fast bowler. He is clearly still at the beginning of his journey. He is learning every single day and having the likes of Dale Steyn around him is a huge boost because he is learning so much on the go. We accept he is going to go for runs, what we want to see is the return in terms of wickets,” Moody added.

Inputs from AFP