It has been a forgettable few months for Kuldeep Yadav. After a poor stint at the IPL with Kolkata Knight Riders last year where he played just five matches and picked up only one wicket, he was mostly relegated to the bench for India's tour of Australia, as well as the home series against England.
After being sidelined for the entire five-match T20I series against England which India won 3-2, Yadav eventually got his chance in the ODIs, being selected for the first two matches. However, he once again struggled to make an impact, going wicketless and conceding 152 runs across the two games.
Yadav had a particularly torrid time against Ben Stokes in the second ODI in Pune, conceding 20 runs in an over, including three consecutive sixes because he "didn't understand what length to bowl" and "didn't have any assistance on the pitch". It allowed England to chase down a target of 337 inside 44 overs.
Yadav admitted that rust was an issue with his performances, but that he is also "not at all worried" about what the future holds.
"If you're playing regularly, you get an idea about the length and can quickly identify what length to bowl," Yadav told Mid Day. "But when you're playing with breaks, the length may sometimes be a little up or short. If I work hard on my lengths, it will help me bowl better.
"The first game was very important as I was playing after a long time. I didn't get into a good rhythm in that match. Had I been playing regularly, rhythm would not have been an issue. I made a good comeback after the first over [conceding 13 runs]. In the second game, I bowled better. It's just that there was no assistance for spin on the pitch, so I didn't get the desired results. On flat pitches, length is crucial. It was difficult for spinners in the ODIs, all went for runs."
Yadav also dismissed talk that batsmen had him "figured out", insisting that his main job was "to keep improving" and not focus on anything else.
"I don't pay attention to all this talk. It's important that I keep improving my skills and be as accurate as possible. If you're playing regularly, batsmen tend to read you. If they are getting comfortable playing me, then my job as a bowler is to keep improving. And that's why I look to add or change a few things every time.
"Despite all the analysis, batsmen still find ways to score runs and bowlers still find different methods to take wickets. There are other factors, too, like form, rhythm and confidence. If [your] confidence is high, you'll start taking wickets and people will again start talking good things about you.
"My job is to be ready whenever the opportunity arises. The team management has always communicated to me the reason why I wasn't getting a place in the XI. They have always backed me and I am not at all worried. I keep working hard in training sessions and do whatever the team needs."