In the Duleep Trophy, 1988-89, all the five regular participating zonal teams played against each other with a common objective of winning the championship title. The teams included the likes of Central Zone, East Zone, West Zone, North Zone and South Zone and all of the were selected by the tournament organisers, BCCI. The BCCI followed the zonal format used in Ranji Trophy, while selecting the teams from five different geographical locations of India.
The match between the teams of Central Zone and East Zone was the first match of Duleep Trophy, 1988-89 and the match was held at Srinagar from 10-13 September, 1988. The captain of East Zone, J Arun Lal won the toss and decided to bat first in the match. It was a goods decision from Arun Lal, as the East Zone batsmen batted well and scored a good total of 369 runs for 5 wickets in their first innings. The skipper, J Arun Lal made most of the contribution to the team's total by scoring a wonderful century of 103 runs. I Roy and S Karim also played well to score 81 runs and 63 runs, respectively for East Zone. After Arun Lal declared East Zone's first innings on a score of 369-5, the Central Zone batsmen tried well to get past the score. However, they could not do so and got all out for a score of 322 runs in their first innings. P Shastri (64), N Churi (63) and P Amre (57) played well for Central Zone, however, that was not enough to surpass the first innings total of East Zone. V Venkatram took 5 wickets for 93 runs on behalf of East Zone in Central Zone's first innings. However, as the match's stipulated duration got over by the time Central Zone finished their batting in the second innings, the match ended in a draw. The East Zone team won the drawn match on the basis of its first innings lead and also entered into the Semi-Finals of Duleep Trophy, 1988-89.
The first Semi-Final of Duleep Trophy, 1988-89 was played between the teams of North Zone and East Zone and the two teams played the match at Patiala from 16-19 September, 1988. The toss of the match was won by the North Zone captain, M Amarnath and he took the decision of batting first in the match. Amarnath got a wonderful response from his batsmen for his decision, as the North Zone batsmen played superbly and scored a wonderful total of 400 runs for 5 wickets in their first innings. The skipper, Amarnath and famous batsman, A Sharma scored two unbeaten centuries for North Zone in the first innings. While Amarnath played a wonderful innings of 149 runs, Sharma scored 100 runs for helping his team get the huge total on the scoreboard. Amarnath declared North Zone's first innings on the score of 400-5 and while replying to that, the East Zone batsmen failed to play well in their first innings. The East Zone team could score only 253 runs in the first innings, where the captain, J Arun Lal became the top scorer with 58 runs to his name. Leading by a huge margin of 147 runs in the first innings, the North Zone team scored 64 runs for 1 wicket in the second innings, before the end of play. As the match ended in a draw, the match officials declared the North Zone team as the winner of the match for having a lead in the first innings. The North Zone team also reached the Final of Duleep Trophy, 1988-89 by winning this match.
The teams of South Zone and West Zone played against each other in the second Semi-Final of Duleep Trophy, 1988-89 and the match took place at Faridabad from 16-19 September, 1988. Winning the toss, the West Zone skipper, D Vengsarkar took the decision of batting first in the match and his batsmen supported the decision quite nicely. The West Zone batsmen put on a huge total of 395 runs on the scoreboard in their first innings, where R Shastri scored the highest of 87 runs. The other batsmen like S Manjrekar (74), S Kalyani (69), L Rajput (68) and C Pandit (57) also played well for West Zone in the first innings. In reply to the huge total of West Zone in the first innings, the South Zone batsmen played well but failed to surpass the score. The South Zone team scored a total of 335 runs in the first innings, thanks to two good knocks by W Raman (94) and V Chandrasekhar (80). The West Zone team was leading by 60 runs over South Zone in the first innings. However, the stipulated duration of the match got over when West Zone reached the score of 192-7 in the second innings and as a result, the match ended in a draw. Being declared as the winner of the match for having a lead in the first innings, the West Zone team reached the Final of Duleep Trophy, 1988-89 for playing against North Zone.
The North Zone and West Zone were the teams that played against each other in the Final of Duleep Trophy, 1988-89, which was held at Delhi from 22-27 September, 1988. The West Zone team batted first in the match, as the North Zone skipper, Kapil Dev invited them to do so, after winning the toss. It was a nice decision, as the North Zone bowlers became successful to restrict the West Zone first innings to a moderate total of 285 runs. K More was the highest run getter for West Zone in the first innings, as he scored a good century of 113 runs. The opener, L Rajput also played well to score 53 runs. However, the match has to be finished after the North Zone team reached the score of 18-0 in the first innings, due to some unavoidable reasons. As there was no play possible in the final day of the match, the match officials declared both the West Zone and North Zone teams, as the joint winners of Duleep Trophy, 1988-89.