De Villiers issues ominous warning

The Proteas star has a worrying message for international bowlers after his career-best 176

AB de Villiers feels he is hitting the ball as sweetly as ever following his recent break from the South African side, in an ominous sign for Australian bowlers ahead of their Test tour there later this summer.

The Proteas were given a glimpse of what they have been missing as de Villiers flayed Bangladesh's attack with stunning ease on his way to a career-best one-day international score on Wednesday.

The 33-year-old smashed 176 off 104 balls, including seven towering sixes, as the hosts sealed the three-match series with a game to spare following a 104-run victory.

"I'm hitting the ball as well as ever and it felt that way out there, I could feel the ball coming off really well," de Villiers said.

"It's just nice to contribute."

De Villiers had been on a self-imposed exile from the side, but announced last month he would be available again in all three formats as South Africa prepare to welcome India and Australia for respective Test series in the coming months.

De Villiers strikes one of his 176 runs in the second ODI // Getty
De Villiers strikes one of his 176 runs in the second ODI // Getty

"I just needed a couple of months away with the family, which I got," he said.

"I watched all the games the guys played and I've been in contact with them. It felt like I never really left, but I did miss being on the park and playing."

De Villiers took a step towards a highly-anticipated return to the Test arena after returning from an 18-month exile from first-class cricket by turning out for his domestic side Titans in a four-day clash earlier this month.

With a four-match home series against Australia looming in March, de Villiers look set to return to South Africa's middle order in the longest format.

While he didn't make himself available for the recent two-Test series against Bangladesh, he is expected to return to face Australia.

De Villiers' last Test was in January 2016 at Centurion where he made a pair in the final Test of the Proteas' home series against England.

South Africa's next assignment in the longest format is a four-day Test against Zimbabwe in December.

De Villiers gave up the one-day captaincy after the Champions Trophy in England earlier this year, with Test skipper Faf du Plessis taking over as leader of the one-day side.