The first match of Duleep Trophy, 1980-81 was played between the teams of Central Zone and South Zone and the two teams played the match at Kanpur from 07-10 December, 1980. The Central Zone skipper, P Sharma decided to bat first in the match after winning the toss and the decision was proved to be a right one. The Central Zone batted wonderfully in their first innings and put on a huge total of 445 runs on the scoreboard. The batsmen like S Rao and P Sharma took the lead role in Central Zone's wonderful batting display, as they scored two superb centuries. Rao played a magnificent knock of 188 runs and Sharma scored 111 runs for Central Zone in the first innings. In reply to the huge first innings total of Central Zone, the South Zone batsmen failed to play as good as the Central Zone batsmen and they scored 276 runs in their first innings, before getting all out. After attaining a lead of 169 runs in the first innings, the Central Zone skipper, P Sharma declared the second innings on a score of 268-8. Thus, the South Zone team required a huge 438 runs in the second innings to win the match, which they could not get due to shortage of time. The match's stipulated duration ended when South Zone reached the score of 206-2 in the second innings. The Central Zone team won the drawn match on the basis of its first innings lead and it also entered into the Semi-Finals of Duleep Trophy, 1980-81.
The North Zone and East Zone were the teams that played against each other in the first Semi-Final of Duleep Trophy, 1980-81 and the match was held at Delhi from 21-24 December, 1980. The East Zone skipper, U Banerjee took the decision of batting first in the match after winning the toss and the decision was well supported by his batsmen. The East Zone opener, K Dubey led his teammates to score a huge total of 370 runs in the first innings, where he scored 101 runs. Madan Lal took 5 wickets for 76 runs on behalf of North Zone in East Zone's first innings. The North Zone batsmen faced some huge troubles while batting in their first innings and they eventually scored 277 runs, before losing all the wickets. B Burman caused most of the damage to the North Zone batting line-up by picking up 5 wickets for 115 runs. The East Zone was leading by 93 runs in the first innings and when the team reached the score of 47-1 in the second innings, the stipulated duration of the match got over. The East Zone team won the drawn match for having a lead in the first innings and thus, reached the Final of Duleep Trophy, 1980-81.
In the second Semi-Final of Duleep Trophy, 1980-81, the teams of West Zone and Central Zone played against each other at Bombay from 21-24 December, 1980. The match saw the captain of Central Zone, P Sharma winning the toss and inviting the West Zone team to bat first in the match. The West Zone team scored a moderate total of 225 runs in the first innings, thanks to a 57 runs innings from R Jadeja. The Central Zone batsmen miserably failed to play well in their first innings, while replying to West Zone's first innings total. The Central Zone captain declared the first innings on a total of 111-9, while trailing by 114 runs to the West Zone team. The West Zone batsmen played well in the second innings also and scored a good total of 240 runs to increase the total lead over Central Zone to 354 runs. Chasing a huge target of 355 runs to win in the second innings, the Central Zone team could reach the score of 198-5, before the end of the play. Thus, the match officials declared the West Zone team as the winner of the drawn match, as it had a lead in the first innings. The West Zone team also entered into the Final of Duleep Trophy, 1980-81 to play against East Zone.
The teams of East Zone and West Zone played against each other in the Final of Duleep Trophy, 1980-81 and the two teams played the match at Calcutta from 20-23 February, 1981. Winning the toss, the West Zone skipper, A Mankad decided to bat first in the match and got good support from his batsmen. R Bhalekar played a wonderful knock of 99 runs and helped the West Zone team in getting a good total of 315 runs on the scoreboard in the first innings. B Burman bowled wonderfully and took 6 wickets for 88 runs on behalf of East Zone in West Zone's first innings. In reply to the 315 runs made by West Zone in the first innings, the East Zone batsmen could not play much well and scored only 214 runs, before getting all out. K Dubey scored the highest runs for East Zone with 88 runs and A Bhardwaj supported him well by scoring 64 runs. N Satham took 5 wickets for 52 runs on behalf of West Zone in East Zone's first innings. The West Zone batsmen played wonderfully in their second innings also and scored a bigger total of 348-4 for taking a huge overall lead of 447 runs over East Zone. A Gaekwad and A Mankad played two wonderful century knocks of 147 runs and 100 runs, respectively for West Zone in the second innings. Chasing a mammoth total of 448 runs to win, the East Zone batsmen could score 186 runs for 6 wickets, before the match's stipulated duration got over. As a result, the match officials declared the West Zone team as the winner of the match for having a lead in the first innings. The West Zone team also clinched the championship title in Duleep Trophy, 1980-81, after a gap of 2 years.