Umpire Tariq Butt (centre) with Royal Challengers Bangalore’s Yuvraj Singh (left) and Virat Kohli. Image Credit: Courtesy: RCB

Dubai: It was a special occasion for the UAE’s most-experienced umpire Tariq Butt when he officiated at the practice matches of the Pepsi Indian Premier League (IPL) 2014 teams.

Speaking to Gulf News, Butt, who has presided over many top matches, said: “I never dreamt that one day I would officiate in a match in which renowned batsmen such as Virat Kohli, Yuvraj Singh, AB de Villiers, Rohit Sharma and Kieron Pollard and bowlers like Dale Steyn, Amit Mishra and Ishant Sharma would be in action.”

Butt and another umpire Razzaq Shah took charge of the practice match of the Royal Challengers Bangalore team. IPL champions Mumbai Indians also played against the UAE team in another practice match.

“Bangalore divided their team into a AB de Villiers XI and a Virat Kohli XI. In the match Kohli batted beautifully, but I had to give him caught behind off Ashok Dinda. He nodded correctly at my decision and walked off quickly.”

Butt also had to give India all-rounder Yuvraj Singh run out. Incidentally, Yuvraj’s father and former Test player Yograj Singh is a friend of Butt. In fact, Butt was once Yograj’s guest in Chandigarh during an Indian-Pakistan series. “Yuvraj and Kohli spoke to me in Punjabi language. Though I am from Lahore in Pakistan, my grandfather is from Amritsar in Punjab,” said Butt, who also revealed that Bangalore coach Allan Donald, the former South Africa bowler, asked Yuvraj to bat again.

Though officiating in the match, Butt enjoyed the breath-taking shots played by De Villiers. However, the bowler who impressed Butt the most from Bangalore was leg-break googly bowler Yuzvendra Chahal. “I feel Chahal is a future Indian bowler. He impressed me more than leg-spinner Amit Mishra. The turn and the googlies that Chahal produced were amazing.”

Butt also officiated at the Sunrisers versus Delhi Daredevils match and saw Shikhar Dhawan crack 90 and was also impressed by the knock played by Delhi’s Dinesh Karthik. “It was a dream to experience [South Africa’s star pace bowler, who plays for Sunrisers Hyderabad] Dale Steyn bowling from my end,” he said.

Anil Kumble, the mentor of Mumbai, even asked Butt to officiate at another of their practice match. “Kumble remembers me from 1987 when he came here with the Bangalore Cricket Association team led by Roger Binny. I had officiated in that match too. If it had not been for the IPL being staged here, I would never have got an experience to officiate at a match played by such great stars,” he said.