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De Villiers slams ton on return from injury

File photo - AB de Villiers last played competitive cricket in July 2016 AFP

In his first innings since July 2016, AB de Villiers helped himself to an unbeaten 134 off 103 for Northerns in the CSA Provincial One-Day Challenge. The knock comes as he prepares for a likely South Africa return in the third T20I against Sri Lanka in Cape Town.

At the end of a week where de Villiers' plans for his international future have been a major topic, he was finally able to return to run-scoring after overcoming the elbow injury he picked up at last year's CPL.

Even taking into account the lower standard of his comeback match, it was a notable return for de Villiers given his lack of cricket. Batting at No. 3, he was given the maximum chance for a lengthy innings when opener Jonathan Vandiar was lbw first ball of Northerns' chase.

De Villiers proceeded to reach a century off 87 deliveries - his second fifty needing 37 balls - and finished the match with consecutive sixes. In total he struck 19 fours and three sixes in just over two hours in the middle.

The final T20I against Sri Lanka had been earmarked for de Villiers' return ahead of the one-day series and the limited-overs leg of the New Zealand tour. He has already made himself unavailable for Test cricket for most of 2017, suggesting a comeback will come at home against India late in the year should that series be confirmed.

Morne Morkel, who has been out of action as long as de Villiers with a back injury, was also due to play in the game but doubt was cast on his availability when he showed some symptoms of the same issue last week. Morkel did not play the match and there is continued uncertainty over when he will make his return.