AB de Villiers is hardly ever rude. If he sees someone he recognises he will say hello, smile and share a few words. If he sees someone he doesn't, he will do all that too. But for a moment, when confronted with Andre Russell, de Villiers was downright rude.

He stepped so far forward and outside offstump he was halfway to point, took one-hand off the bat and swept Russell to the square leg boundary.

Read that again.

Close your eyes to visualise it.

What you will see is something audacious, ballsy, devilishly good and, in all the right ways, really, really rude.

You can't blame de Villiers for foregoing his impeccable manners and throwing a cricketing tantrum of sorts as South Africa looked to send a message about their suitability as successful candidates at this tournament.

He had something to address after what he termed an "embarrassing," defeat at the MCG. It always felt as if it was his job.

De Villiers holds himself more accountable than many other captains. If a defeat is caused by batting lapses, de Villiers picks out his own wicket as the one that should not have fallen first. If the defeat is caused by bowling lapses, de Villiers identifies his own management of the pack as the reason.

His understanding of leadership is based on selflessness. If the team underperforms, it is his fault. If they succeed, it the credit is shared. He will cite this innings as another example of that.

When de Villiers arrived at the crease, the situation was tailor-made for him. South Africa had a solid base, but one created by circumspection, not speed. Their innings was in a tense period. It needed someone with courage, confidence and a dash of chutzpah. De Villiers has all three and a lot more.

He was able to use the first 18 balls to suss out the situation because Rilee Rossouw played what could become a defining innings in his fledgling career. Rossouw was brought in for this match to add batting depth in JP Duminy's absence on the back of a patchy introduction to ODI cricket which started with from four ducks in six innings and has since blossomed to include two centuries. A World Cup half-century under pressure will go some way to helping him establish himself.

Already the captain has endorsed Rossouw as a player he "likes the look of," because of his competitive streak, which de Villiers' said injected energy into today's knock. Rossouw was the one pushing the singles and piercing the gaps at the start of de Villiers' innings. De Villiers allowed himself to be led until he could take the lead.

A slow, overpitched delivery from Jerome Taylor was his cue - the ball threaded straight down the ground. It opened de Villiers up. The shot should have told West Indies to starve de Villiers of the fuller length he is so fond of, but they fed it to him. He dismissed three full tosses in the next three overs to allow South Africa to enter the final 10 overs like a car about to embark on a journey down a long straight road.

The next time straight road you encounter - and you are not driving - press your nose to the window and keep your eyes open. Don't blink for as long as you can as the vehicle picks up speed and you will see scenery whooshing past so quickly that everything looks wider and taller and bigger than it really is. The trees take on the shape of each other until they begin to look like a forest. The other cars on the road morph into a never-ending limousine. The people become a marching crowd. That was how de Villiers scored runs in those lost 10 overs.

Russell bowled short, bowled full, bowled length, Benn flighted it and flirted with the leg side and Holder found himself on the receiving end of a demolition job. But what stood out about de Villiers' assault was the number of times he walked outside off, took the ball from there and forced it onto the leg side. His team-mates have referred to that stroke as a Spiderman shot, because only someone with a superpower can do.

To do it over and over and over again, each time achieving the same results, takes someone whose superpower is part of their DNA and de Villiers has always been that person.

Not only did he once juggle being the key batsman with keeping wicket and captaining but he has broken records while doing all that too.

De Villiers was the designated gloveman and skipper the day he scored the fastest fifty and fastest hundred in ODI cricket. Today, he designated himself to get South Africa's World Cup campaign on track and scored the fastest 150. It was the rudest, and most wonderful, of interventions.