Rohit Sharma (L) and Thisara Perera © AFP
Rohit Sharma (L) and Thisara Perera © AFP

With Virat Kohli opting out and Upul Tharanga sacked, Rohit Sharma and Thisara Perera walked out to flip the coin in the first ODI between India  and Sri Lanka, at Dharamsala. Neither Rohit nor Thisara had led their respective countries before in ODIs (though Thisara had in T20Is). This was the 14th instance in ODIs of two men making their respective captaincy debuts. Some of these instances feature the first ODIs for one or both sides (including the first ever ODI).

Making captaincy debut together (Tests)
Captain 1 Team Captain 2 Team Venue Season First match for
Dave Gregory Australia James Lillywhite Jr England Melbourne 1876-77 Australia, England, also first ever Test
AG Steel England Henry Scott Australia Old Trafford 1886
Owen Dunnell South Africa C Aubrey Smith England Port Elizabeth 1888-89 South Africa
William Milton South Africa Monty Bowden England Cape Town 1888-89
Barberton Halliwell South Africa Tim O’Brien England Port Elizabeth 1895-96
Monty Noble Australia Plum Warner England Sydney 1903-04
Tip Snooke South Africa Shrimp Leveson Gower England Old Wanderers 1909-10
Frank Mitchell South Africa Syd Gregory Australia Old Trafford 1912
Nummy Deane South Africa Rony Stanyforth England Old Wanderers 1927-28
Tom Lowry New Zealand Harold Gilligan England Christchurch 1929-30 New Zealand
Teddy Hoad West Indies Freddie Calthorpe England Bridgetown 1929-30
Gubby Allen England Vizzy India Lord’s 1936
Walter Hadlee New Zealand Bill Brown Australia Wellington 1945-46
George Headley West Indies Ken Cranston England Bridgetown 1947-48
Dudley Nourse South Africa George Mann England Durban 1948-49
Vijay Hazare India Nigel Howard England Delhi 1951-52
Tom Graveney England Barry Jarman Australia Headingley 1968
Glenn Turner New Zealand Sunil Gavaskar India Auckland 1975-76
Richie Richardson West Indies Kepler Wessels South Africa Bridgetown 1992 South Africa (post-Apartheid)
Waqar Younis Pakistan Andy Flower Zimbabwe Karachi 1992-93
Gary Kirsten South Africa Aamer Sohail Pakistan New Wanderers 1997-98
Naimur Rahman Bangladesh Sourav Ganguly India Dhaka 2000-01 Bangladesh
Khaled Mahmud Bangladesh Graeme Smith South Africa Chittagong 2003
Floyd Reifer West Indies Mashrafe Mortaza Bangladesh Kingstown 2009
Joe Root England Dean Elgar South Africa Lord’s 2017

Here are the corresponding lists for Tests. As was expected, almost a third come from the pre-War era, when travel was difficult and cricketers often skipped tours due to other commitments, often financial. England’s stubborn approach of sticking to amateur captains resulted in them featuring in 16 out of the first 18 instances. 

Making captaincy debut together (ODIs)
Captain 1 Team Captain 2 Team Venue Date First match for
Bill Lawry Australia Ray Illingworth England Melbourne January 5, 1971 Australia, England, also first ever ODI
Brian Close England Ian Chappell Australia Old Trafford August 24, 1972
Bevan Congdon New Zealand Intikhab Alam Pakistan Christchurch February 11, 1973 New Zealand, Pakistan
Mike Denness England Rohan Kanhai West Indies Headingley September 5, 1973 West Indies
Anura Tennekoon Sri Lanka Clive Lloyd West Indies Old Trafford June 7, 1975 Sri Lanka
Deryck Murray West Indies Bobby Simpson Australia St John’s February 22, 1978
Zaheer Abbas Pakistan Duleep Mendis Sri Lanka Karachi March 31, 1982
Sarfraz Nawaz Pakistan David Gower England Karachi March 26, 1984
Ian Healy Australia Alistair Campbell Zimbabwe Premadasa August 26, 1996
Khaled Mashud Bangladesh Stuart Carlisle Zimbabwe Chittagong November 23, 2001
Paul Collingwood England Chris Gayle West Indies Lord’s July 1, 2007
Floyd Reifer West Indies Shakib Al Hasan Bangladesh Roseau July 26, 2009
Mushfiqur Rahim Bangladesh Denesh Ramdin West Indies Mirpur October 13, 2011
Rohit Sharma India Tissara Perera Sri Lanka Dharamshala December 10, 2017

The T20I list was probably expected to be more populated, since a lot of teams started playing the format at international level at roughly the same time. Almost incredibly, since the first ever match, only two sets of teams have made their T20I debuts together.

Making captaincy debut together (T20Is)
Captain 1 Team Captain 2 Team Venue Date First match for
Stephen Fleming New Zealand Ricky Ponting Australia Auckland February 17, 2005 New Zealand, Australia, also first ever T20I
Andrew Strauss England Mahela Jayawardene Sri Lanka Southampton June 15, 2006
Shahriar Nafees Bangladesh Prosper Utseya Zimbabwe Khulna November 28, 2006 Bangladesh, Zimbabwe
Paul Collingwood England Chris Gayle West Indies The Oval June 28, 2007
Shoaib Malik Pakistan Ryan Watson Scotland Durban September 12, 2007 Scotland
Floyd Reifer West Indies Shakib Al Hasan Bangladesh Basseterre August 2, 2009
Rizwan Cheema Canada Peter Borren Netherlands Dubai (DSC) February 9, 2010
Elton Chigumbura Zimbabwe Suresh Raina India Harare June 12, 2010
Stuart Broad England Thilina Kandamby Sri Lanka Bristol June 25, 2011
Collins Obuya Kenya Gordon Drummond Scotland Dubai (ICCCA) March 13, 2012
Jamie Atkinson Hong Kong Paras Khadka Nepal Chittagong March 16, 2014 Hong Kong, Nepal
Asad Vala Papua New Guinea Gary Wilson Ireland Townsville February 9, 2016

Note: India haven’t lost an ODI series at home since their 2-3 defeat to South Africa in 2015-16. Rohit will like to definitely not want to become the captain under whom they would end the streak. On the other hand, Thisara will be keen to finish off the year with a famous series victory over India on his captaincy debut.