Virat Kohli    Getty Images
Virat Kohli averages 20.12 in 17 innings against England Getty Images

In cricket, the use word pride takes places usually when a team, battered consistently by their opponents, enters a contest, which has nothing to offer but a chance to save face. As India prepare to take on England in the first Test at Rajkot starting Wednesday, Kohli s team will find itself being fixated in a spot where they have a lot of restoration work to do. For a team that has lost 9 out of last 13 Tests to England since 2011, India have a mortifying record which has only two bright spots in form of wins. With the beginning of the five-Test series, nothing less than pride of Indian cricket will be at stake when they begin the second leg of their big India Cricket season. Full Cricket Scorecard: India vs England 1st Test at Rajkot

No other cricket teams in the recent years have damaged Indian cricket team as much as England. Apart from two consolatory victories, India have largely remained uncompetitive against England be it home or away. Understandably, this young side under Virat Kohli will face the humongous challenges to turn around their fortunes and restore what has been lost. On their part, England have of course, played terrific cricket whenever these two teams have met in the last five years or so, but their victories have also been aided with some spineless show by the Indians.

In 2014, India sprang a surprise by taking a 1-0 lead in the five-Test series by winning the Lord s Test. But that dropped catch of Alastair Cook by Ravindra Jadeja in the third Test not only gave the England captain a lifeline, but also, saw India fizzling out and hitting lowest of lows in the remainder of the tour. In just a few weeks, from a developing team, India went back being less than mediocre. India vs England, 1st Test, Preview and Predictions

In both the previous series, India lost more than just cricket matches. The 2011 tour of England exposed Indian cricket stark naked; with their greats hurling towards retirement, and the young not being ready enough to take charge. Fresh from their World Cup win, Indian cricket suffered that humiliation, which no champion side had ever faced. They could neither bat nor bowl, and along the way, they had to cope with some stinging criticism from the opposition camp.

Tim Bresnan s rant on Indian cricketers to either take their hands out of pockets while fielding in the cold English weather or go home was some of the nastiest things being said in the 2011 series. Hope the Indians have not forgotten it.

In 2012, a young Cheteshwar Pujara appeared on a TV show claiming that the Indians were ready to avenge their defeat of last year. But it all fell flat, on their faces. READ: VVS Laxman: England need to play positive cricket against favourites India

The performances in 2014 tour were full of promise, but lacked substance. MS Dhoni took blows on the body to score runs, the new seamers did everything in their power but their batsmen let them down. Kohli struggled to find feet, though Rahane delivered in the win at Lord s. And whatever reputation the Indians were left with of being good players against spin was demolished by Moeen Ali.

However, with their transitional phase being a thing of past, the young team under the maverick Kohli now sets out for their biggest challenge of their long season at home. New Zealand, the team that travelled to India first, looked solid on paper but could not muster more than two ODI wins, and Australia, the last team set to sail for India early next year, are in a horrible shape. Expecting anything from the current Australian side will be daft. Bangladesh may have trumped England in their backyard, but the tigers lose their mojo as soon as they step out of their home.

England may be coming off a surprising Test defeat to Bangladesh, but it could be a grave mistake to undermine their firepower. England might be low on spin and their batsmen might not be technically sound enough to make runs in the subcontinent, but they remain one of the finest Test teams in the world with some really exciting talent brimming with confidence. READ: India vs England: Stage set for Murali Vijay to score big

For India, there could not be any better setting than this. Having not lost a single Test for more than a year, the new Indian side with a different, positive as well as aggressive approach has provided a lot to cheer about. There might be some niggles here and there the form and role of key batsmen such as Shikhar Dhawan and Rohit Sharma and their overall team composition being among a few big worries but from a holistic view the team looks set for greater achievements.

While the greatest of examinations for this Indian bunch, which has many players looking set to form the nucleus of the Test side for the next decade or so, will be when they travel overseas, there are less doubts as of now in them performing the same when the time arrives.

Going into this series against England, the biggest advantage may be the fact that they are playing at home and are expected to deliver big results. But that is not the only one. There is a very intense fight between cricketers of various disciplines for spots in the Test side, which signals the healthy state that Indian cricket has arrived at. Kohli, his deputy Ajinkya Rahane, Cheteshwar Pujara, Murali Vijay form the core of Indian batting, and in Ravichandran Ashwin, Indian cricket has been blessed with a true match-winner. While Ashwin remains India s biggest threat to the opposition in the home conditions, there is Ravindra Jadeja from the other end, who provides no respite. And for those who think Indians tend to rely on their spinners for winning matches, there is a rich pool of seam bowlers in Mohammed Shami, Umesh Yadav, Ishant Sharma and now, Hardik Pandya, who has been added in the Indian side for the first two Tests against England. READ: England tour of India: All you need to know

The mood in the Indian camp is at the moment, irrespective of what has been happening in a separate field between the BCCI and the Supreme Court, remains positive. The feel good factor is rampant across players and support staff, which will spur the entire unit into delivering positive results. The 3-0 hammering of a solid New Zealand team, the 2-0 away victory over West Indies, the historic Test series win in Sri Lanka last year and the annihilation of South Africa at home look to have instilled the habit of winning in this side.

On a personal note, Kohli would like to set his record right against England, which as of now, is quite embarrassing. The Indian run-machine has played two full series against England so far one each home and away. In both the series, Kohli has had a poor run, having scored mere one century and averaging a lowly 20. In the 2014 tour, Kohli went through a terrible phase against the English seamers, and ended the series with a batting average of 13.40. But now, with two double hundreds behind him in space of three months, Kohli would be more than eager to get some runs against one of the most disciplined bowling attacks. The competition has certainly intensified with the return of ace England bowler James Anderson, and Kohli, India s big-match player, will be up for the challenge.

In 2011, a jaded Indian team was ripped apart with some quality seam and swing bowling in England. India also remained less than full-strength throughout their tour; Zaheer Khan and Virender Sehwag would not have been missed as dearly as they were in that series. When England came around in 2012, the Indians were still stumbling with the exits of Rahul Dravid and VVS Laxman, and an unbalanced side with far too many poor performers led to their downfall. There was neither any resistance nor resilience against a thoroughly professional England cricket team which still had their best players firing all cylinders. READ: Karun s consistency makes him favourite to earn Test cap

But now, the scene is entirely different.

No more are the Indians meek in their spirits or approach. This Indian Test side may be young, but it carries all ingredients that help teams become ruthless. There is insatiate hunger to do well in Test cricket, which runs right from the top in Kohli to the bottom of the unit. And at the end, there is the determination to settle scores against England.

For England, this will be a make or break series for many. Cook has already hinted at giving up Test captaincy irrespective of the outcome of the series. He may as well retire having not found a stable opening partner ever since Andrew Strauss went away. The No. 3 Joe Root remains their biggest hope in batting, as the rest are fallible and have shown signs of crumbling under pressure.

The time is apt for India to strike.

(Devarchit Varma is a senior writer with CricketCountry. He can be followed on Twitter @Devarchit)