India and Pakistan last played in a series during 2007.

Christmas, associated with gifts and family reunions, inevitably brings heavy symbolism to the restart of cricketing relations between India and Pakistan. But the captains of the two countries’ teams, M.S. Dhoni and Mohammed Hafeez, have however sought to divest the five-match limited overs series — beginning Tuesday in Bangalore — of their political undercurrents.

“It is a balanced series and the team that plays better will win,” said Dhoni while Hafeez stressed: “We are here to play good cricket.”

Nevertheless, when Dhoni and Hafeez walk out for the toss ahead of the Twenty20 match at the Chinnaswamy Stadium, they would only be too aware that the ongoing, though slow, reconciliation between Delhi and Islamabad has paved the way for this series.

The five matches, two Twenty20s and three One Day Internationals, come after a five-year gap in bilateral matches between the sub-continental neighbours fused by history but split by the Radcliffe Line drawn in 1947.

India and Pakistan last played in a series during 2007. Back then, playing at home, India defeated Pakistan 1-0 in the Test series and 3-2 in the ODI series. The terror strikes in Mumbai in November 2008 meant that polite conversation and frenzied cricket between the two nations were abandoned for a while.

The two nations though did face off in International Cricket Council events. The ICC World Cup semifinal at Mohali in 2011 and the ICC World Twenty20 clashat Colombo on September 30 being the prime examples, and in both thesegames M.S. Dhoni’s men prevailed.

*This report has been corrected for a factual error

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