Ashish Bagai has stepped down as captain of Canada ahead of the Intercontinental Cup which begins in June. The 29-year-old wicketkeeper-batsman Bagai, who made his debut in 2003 and has had two stints as captain, will still be available for selection as a player. Bagai led Canada in the 2011 World Cup in which they beat higher-ranked Kenya in the group stages. He made two half-centuries during the tournament.

"It has been an honour to captain my country in the sport I love and I thank everyone in this organisation who helped and supported me throughout my term including administrators, coaches, managers and most of all, the players," Bagai said in a letter to Cricket Canada's board.

"I undertook each task over the last two years with the primary objective of moving not just the team but also the entire organisation forward."

Bagai was appointed captain for the 2007 Intercontinental Cup when he was just 25 but chose to take up a job in the banking industry in the UK later the same year, making him unavailable for many of Canada's matches. In 2009 he quit his job and signed a contract with Cricket Canada to play the sport full-time and has been captain of the national team since.

Cricket Canada have accepted Bagai's decision to step down and indicated they would still select him as a player.

"Cricket Canada thanks Ashish for his outstanding contribution to Canadian cricket at a time when circumstances were difficult and challenging," Cricket Canada president Ranjit Saini said in a statement. "I wish him well and look forward to his continued contribution as a player and strong supporter of Canadian cricket."

Canada will have to name a new captain for the Intercontinental Cup in which they will play four-day matches over a 28-month time frame against Afghanistan, Ireland, Scotland, Kenya, Netherlands, Namibia and UAE.