India go into this match with seven successive wins. The close encounter in the previous ODI threw some warning signs for Team India. Here are some of them pertaining to Indian batting, which I think are most critical to maintain consistency.
Setting a target: After a great start, it was expected that India would put up some score in the vicinity 300. But somehow the batsmen lost their way.
Sehwag's run out was unwarranted.
Both Yuvi and Raina struggled against the spin twins and in the process managed only 85 runs in 19 overs. Once both of them to out in quick succession, there were 17 overs to go and 180/5 on the board.
India did not have the batting lower down to up the rate,or even to maintain the rate and hence ended up at least 30 runs short.
Dhoni Factor: Expecting MSD to bail the team out of trouble is a bit too much. He has done extremely well in many a high-pressure situation. In the second ODI, he had an off day and that severely reduced India's score.
Batting Power Play: When India took the PP in the 41st but by then India was losing steam. Yusuf's run out made matters worse. The extent to which India struggled is best exemplified by a maiden over during the PP!
Ideally, India would prefer to take the batting PP when Yuvi and Dhoni are batting, i.e. around 38th over. In the second ODI, the loss of Yuvi & Raina quickly was a big blow to India's chances of setting up a big total.
Spin Factor: The batsmen have to factor in the PP, and sort of play themselves into a situation when they can bring it on and cash in big time. This is possible only if they handle the spin attack well. I believe India's batting against spin is still suspect, barring the top three and Dhoni.
Dhoni rightly pointed out that India have struggled against the spin twins. Murali-Mendis duo gave away just 76 in their combined 20 overs. This increases pressure on the batsmen to score faster against the others and that often leads to wickets.
So it is imperative that India handles them well. "Handle" means not just keeping wickets intact but scoring at a decent clip. I think in a bid to not lose wickets to them, the batsmen played to defensively against them. MSD himself is guilty here with 6 off 13 against Mendis and 4 (7) against Murali.
Murali bowled a mained in the third PP. Given India's discomfort, I think Jayawardene will use them for the PP.
Indian batsmen v/s SL spinners...that's the battle that'll decide the game's outcome at Colombo.