Kuldeep Yadav picked up his fifth four-wicket haul in One-Day Internationals as India beat South Africa by seven wickets at the Arun Jaitley Stadium on Tuesday. The left-arm spinner catalysed the disintegration of South Africa’s batting, cleaning up the tail to prevent the team from reaching three figures. He narrowly missed a hat-trick, too, in one of the more memorable games of his ODI career.

Kuldeep may have picked up only a wicket each in the first two matches of the series, but he says he has bowled as well as he has wanted to in all the matches of the series, and that there is good rhythm in his bowling.

“My confidence improved after the IPL,” he told media persons assembled here.

“I went to the West Indies and bowled well there. I bowled well in Zimbabwe, too, and for India A recently. I’ve always had confidence. Wickets or the lack of them don’t reflect the confidence I have. Throughout the series, I was bowling as well as I wanted to bowl. My confidence has gone up.”

Much of his confidence and rhythm has to do with regular match practice. Kuldeep played limited-overs internationals in the Caribbean, in West Indies, and recently for India A. “Playing matches is very important for everyone. If you keep playing, you become more confident. And you learn a lot too. Luckily I’m getting to play matches and I’m enjoying playing. You want to learn and improve during net sessions, but you realise your mistakes more quickly when you’re playing matches,” he said.

But Kuldeep also pointed out that it is also the result of having worked hard on his rhythm. “That’s the reason I could increase the pace of my deliveries. I’m not compromising on the spin. I’m getting good turn and batsmen are not getting so much time to play the deliveries, so I’m working on that,” he said.