With an aim to increase awareness of polio among parents of the region, Indian players Virender Sehwag, Suresh Raina, Harbhajan Singh and Rohit Sharma, on Tuesday met with Afghanistan captain Nowroz Mangal and Afghanistan players who were part of the noble cause were Mohammad Shahzad, Karim Nowrap and Mohammad Ashghar Stanikzai of his team-mates here and exchanged bats signed by both the sides.
The bats were exchanged as symbols of both countries commitment to end polio once and for all. On the teams` return to their home countries, UNICEF will present the bats to the Governments of Afghanistan and India to underline cricket support in the fight against polio.
The India vs Afghanistan clash on Wednesday, UNICEF, with the support of the Indian Cricket Council, will display polio eradication messages on the electronic advertising boards and on the electronic scoreboard.
The messages, in English, Hindi and Pashto, will express support for Afghanistan fight against polio and call on Afghan parents, in the local Pashto language, to immunize their children against polio.
Afghanistan, Pakistan and Nigeria are the only three remaining countries yet to stop poliovirus transmission. India became polio free in January 2011 and is now committed to supporting Pakistan and Afghanistan in eradicating the virus across South Asia.
During the occasion, Indian opener Virender Sehwag, a long-time supporter of the polio eradication effort.
Virender Sehwag said, ”Stopping polio in India was like playing a long innings, it took a lot of focus and effort, but India has proven that this disease can be stopped everywhere in the world, once and for all.
“We support Afghanistan and Pakistan in their fight against this disease, so that soon no child in the region is ever needlessly paralysed by polio again”.