NEW DELHI - India on Wednesday brought back opening batsman Gautam Gambhir and axed fragile pace spearhead Zaheer Khan for their first five-Test tour of England in 55 years starting in July. The selectors, who picked a 18-man squad for the back-to-back Tests, included seven seamers and Wriddhiman Saha as reserve wicket-keeper for skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni.

Left-handed Gambhir returns to the Test arena for the first time since December 2012, having been ignored for the home series against Australia and the West Indies last year and the tour of New Zealand this January. Gambhir, with 4,021 runs and nine centuries from 54 Tests, is one of the three openers in the squad alongside Shikhar Dhawan and Murali Vijay.

Khan, India's most experienced new ball bowler with 311 wickets in 92 Tests, was not considered after missing a major part of the ongoing Indian Premier League due to a hamstring injury. He broke down with a leg injury on the opening day of the Test series in England in 2011, in which Dhoni's men suffered a 4-0 whitewash. The squad includes three players, seamers Pankaj Singh, Ishwar Pandey and Stuart Binny, who have no Test match experience.

India last played five Tests on an England tour in 1959 which the hosts swept 5-0. They have not played a five-Test series since losing 1-0 in the Caribbean in 1997. The Indians, who arrive in England in the third week of June, will play two warm-up matches against Leicestershire and Derbyshire before the first Test in Nottingham from July 9. The remaining Tests in London (Lord's and The Oval), Southampton and Manchester, will be followed by five one-day matches and a lone Twenty20 international. The teams for the limited-overs matches to be played between August 25 and September 7, will be named later.

Meanwhile, Suresh Raina, who was dropped for India's last ODI assignment - the Asia Cup - will lead India in the three-ODI series in Bangladesh in the absence of MS Dhoni and Virat Kohli among others. Rohit Sharma, Shikhar Dhawan, R Ashwin, Ravindra Jadeja, Bhuvneshwar Kumar and Mohammed Shami were also rested. Robin Uthappa earned an expected national comeback, Wriddhiman Saha was called up to replace Dhoni as the wicketkeeper, and quite a few performers in the IPL and domestic cricket got selected.

Varun Aaron, Stuart Binny, Amit Mishra, Cheteshwar Pujara, Ajinkya Rahane and Ambati Rayudu were the only players retained from the Asia Cup squad. With so many players resting, this was an ideal space for performers in the domestic season and in the IPL to fill.

Maharashtra's Kedar Jadhav, who led the season's Ranji tally with 1223 runs, got in, as did left-arm spinner Akshar Patel, who impressed for Kings XI Punjab in the IPL. R Vinay Kumar reaped the rewards for leading Karnataka and South Zone to three domestic titles. Manoj Tiwary, who has spent a lot of time on the India bench, came back too, almost two years after last playing for India. Parvez Rasool, who travelled to Zimbabwe last year without getting a cap, got another shot at it. Mohit Sharma's IPL success worked for him whereas absence of possible captains might have worked for Raina.

Raina's previous experience of international captaincy came in a tri-series in Zimbabwe, and a five-ODI series. India failed to make the final of that tri-nation tournament in Zimbabwe, losing out to Sri Lanka and the hosts. India won the bilateral series comfortably in the West Indies, but Raina's batting and shot selection came in for criticism.

The most noteworthy comebacks, though, were of Uthappa and Saha. Uthappa last played for India in March 2012, but he had long ceased being a regular member of the side. This year, though, he followed up a decent first-class season with a stupendous run in the IPL, scoring 40 or more in 10 consecutive innings, possibly a world record.

Saha, known for his keeping skills more than his batting, has frequently warmed the bench in Test cricket, but his 206 IPL runs at a strike rate of 130 seem to have put him ahead of Dinesh Karthik, who kept wicket in Dhoni's absence in the Asia Cup.

TEST SQUAD FOR ENGLAND TOUR: Mahendra Singh Dhoni (capt), Murali Vijay, Shikhar Dhawan, Gautam Gambhir, Cheteshwar Pujara, Virat Kohli, Ajinkya Rahane, Rohit Sharma, Ravindra Jadeja, Ravichandran Ashwin, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Mohammad Shami, Ishwar Pandey, Ishant Sharma, Stuart Binny, Varun Aaron, Wriddhiman Saha, Pankaj Singh.

SQUAD FOR BANGLADESH ODIS: Suresh Raina (capt.), Robin Uthappa, Ajinkya Rahane, Cheteshwar Pujara, Ambati Rayudu, Manoj Tiwary, Kedar Jadhav, Wriddhiman Saha (wk), Parvez Rasool, Akshar Patel, R Vinay Kumar, Umesh Yadav, Stuart Binny, Mohit Sharma, Amit Mishra.