The five zonal teams that participated in the Duleep Trophy, 1987-88 were the regular participants of the tournament and they were selected on the basis of the zonal system of the Ranji Trophy. The tournament organisers, BCCI selected the teams from five different geographical locations of the country. The teams were named as the East Zone, West Zone, North Zone, South Zone and Central Zone in the championship title in Duleep Trophy, 1987-88.
The teams of East Zone and North Zone played against each other in the first match of Duleep Trophy, 1987-88 and the match was held at Jodhpur from 08-11 October, 1987. The captain of North Zone, Madan Lal won the toss and took the decision of batting first in the match. His decision got a wonderful response from the North Zone batsmen, as they played outstandingly and scored a mammoth total of 536 runs in their first innings. The North Zone opener, R Lamba played a superb knock of 197 runs for his team and he got good support from K Bhaskar Pillai, who scored 129 runs. The other opener, M Nayyar also played a good innings of 67 runs for North Zone in the first innings. The East Zone batsmen were looking to be quite tensed and scared about the huge total scored by North Zone in the first innings. As a result, they got all out for a small score of only 241 runs in their first innings. The East Zone skipper, J Arun Lal almost single-handedly took his team's first innings forward, as he made the highest individual score of 143 runs for East Zone. Though, the North Zone team had a huge lead of 295 runs in the first innings, the skipper, Madan Lal did not ask the East Zone to follow on in the second innings. Madan Lal rather decided to bat in the second innings and when the North Zone team reached the score of 216-3 in the second innings, the match's stipulated period got over. K Bhaskar Pillai remained unbeaten after scoring a magnificent hundred of 103 runs in North Zone's second innings. The North Zone team was declared the winner of the drawn match for having a lead in the first innings and the team also entered into the Semi-Final of Duleep Trophy, 1987-88.
The Central Zone and West Zone teams were involved in the first Semi-Final of Duleep Trophy, 1987-88 and the match took place at Nagpur from 15-1 October, 1987. Winning the toss, the Central Zone skipper, P Shastri decided to field first in the match and he invited the West Zone team to bat first. The decision was proved to be a completely wrong one, as the West Zone batsmen scored a mammoth total of 676 runs in their first innings. The famous batsman, S Manjrekar played the most valuable innings for West Zone by scoring a wonderful double century of 278 runs. The West Zone skipper, A Gaekwad also played wonderfully and scored a huge 195 runs to help his team get the huge total in the first innings. In reply to the gargantuan total of 676 runs made by West Zone in the first innings, the Central Zone batsmen faced a lot of trouble and could score only 360 runs in their first innings. The Central Zone skipper, P Shastri played well for his team and scored 118 runs and he also got good support from R Singh, who scored 79 runs for Central Zone. In spite of leading by a huge margin of 316 runs in the first innings, the West Zone captain, A Gaekwad decided to bat in the second innings. The West Zone team scored yet another huge total of 445 runs for 3 wickets in the second innings, thanks to a brilliant double century knock of 275 runs by the opener, L Rajput. However, the stipulated duration of the match ended when West Zone reached the score of 445-3 and the match ended in a draw. The match officials declared the West Zone team as the winner of the match, as it had a lead in the first innings and the team was also allowed to enter into the Final of Duleep Trophy, 1987-88.
The second Semi-Final of Duleep Trophy, 1987-88 saw the teams of North Zone and South Zone and the two teams played the match at Kanpur from 15-18 October, 1987. The North Zone team batted first in the match, as its captain, Madan Lal decided so after winning the toss. The North Zone batsmen provided a wonderful support to their captain's decision and scored a good total of 334 runs in their first innings. The North Zone opener, R Lamba played a vital role for his team by scoring 114 runs in the first innings. The famous South Zone bowler, Arshad Ayub bowled brilliantly for his team and picked up 8 wickets for only 65 runs in North Zone's first innings. The South Zone batsmen failed to apply themselves on the crease properly in their first innings and they could score only 177 runs, before getting all out. Having a handy lead of 157 runs over South Zone in the first innings, the North Zone batsmen played well in their second innings also. The North Zone team scored 283 runs in the second innings, where R Vinayak and K Azad made most of the contributions. Vinayak and Azad played two good knocks of 88 runs and 52 runs, respectively in the second innings of North Zone. Chasing a huge target of 441 runs to win, the South Zone batsmen failed to play well in their second innings and scored only 291 runs, before getting all out. As a result, the North Zone team won the match with a huge margin of 149 runs and also reached the Final of Duleep Trophy, 1987-88 to play against Wets Zone.
The North Zone team played against West Zone in the Final of Duleep Trophy, 1987-88, which was held at Bhilai from 21-26 October, 1987. The North Zone skipper, Madan Lal invited the West Zone team to bat first in the match, after winning the toss. Being put into bat first, the West Zone batsmen showed a wonderful batting display and scored a huge total of 444 runs in their first innings. The skipper of West Zone, A Gaekwad led his team from the front by scoring a magnificent double century of 216 runs. S Keshwala also played well to score 60 runs for his team. Though the West Zone team scored such a huge total in the first innings, the North Zone batsmen never got demotivated. They scored one of the highest team totals in the history of Duleep Trophy in their second innings and put on a huge total of 868 runs on the scoreboard. The North Zone opener, R Lamba became the star for his team, as he scored a brilliant triple century of 320 runs for his team. The North Zone skipper, Madan Lal also played well and scored 107 runs to help his team get a huge lead of 424 runs over West Zone in the first innings. However, the West Zone batsmen were also not in a mood of giving away the match to North Zone and they reached a good score of 284-6 in their second innings, before the end of play. The match eventually ended in a draw and the North Zone team was adjudged as the winner for having a lead in the first innings. The North Zone team also clinched the championship title in Duleep Trophy, 1987-88, by winning this match.